Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, center, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, walk to a closed-door meeting in the Old Senate Chamber for a showdown between Republican and Democratic leaders over presidential nominees that have been blocked by a GOP filibuster, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2013. Credit: AP
There seems to be a schism within the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate. Lawmakers are taking sides as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) leads the effort to defund "Obamacare."
In fact, fellow GOP Sen. Richard Burr, of North Carolina, on Thursday called Lee's plan the "dumbest idea I've ever heard of." By Burr's estimation, "as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law."
Burr lectured "some of these guys" in the Senate who he says "need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you better have a specific reason to do it that's achievable." Listen below:
Lee is joined in his effort to block a continuing resolution that would literally shut down the government unless Obamacare is defunded by at least 11 other GOP senators: Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.), James Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), James Risch (Idaho), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), John Thune (S.D.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa). Additionally, 60 House Republicans signed a letter Wednesday urging GOP leadership in the House to prepare for the same action.
According to the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, Lee's letter on defunding Obamacare had dropped to 12 GOP signatures as of Thursday. The letter once had 17, but Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have reportedly pulled out. It is unclear why.
It seems there is at least some confusion surrounding the motivation behind Sen. Lee's effort. It's not just about blocking a law that many Republicans feel is unconstitutional, Lee explained on the Glenn Beck Radio Program on Thursday.
The Utah senator said that President Obama exceeded his authority when he decided to grant himself the power to selectively enforce the Affordable Care Act, which was passed by Congress as a package.
FILE - This May 18, 2013, file photo, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee addresses the Utah Republican Party's annual organizing convention in Sandy, Utah. Credit: AP
"This strikes at the heart of two very big problems in our republic," Lee said. "One, is the problem of federalism being ignored…only a few powers are supposed to go to the federal government."
"The other part of that power is separation of powers," he added. "Laws are supposed to be made by Congress, not by a court…and not [by] the president, who has now amended Obamacare twice. Once in saying, individuals have to comply with the law during their first year but employers don't. Then in saying, we aren't even going to require people to prove their income."
Lee recently told TheBlaze that he "won’t vote to pass a continuing resolution that contains Obamacare funding."
"It would be unfortunate if Democrats in the Senate insisted on shutting down the government simply because they want to defend – regardless of the costs – a law that has become increasingly, untenably unpopular among the American people," he added.
Meanwhile, Burr isn't the only Republican in the Senate to criticize Lee's proposal.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned the GOP that the American people don't want to see another debt ceiling fight and government shutdown "shenanigans." Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also refused to support the plan.
In the House, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) likened the effort to a "temper tantrum."
"Seems to me there's appropriate ways to deal with the law, but shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum," Cole told Fox News Wednesday.
Instead, for Cole, it's about the Republicans' chances in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
"It’s just not helpful. And it is the sort of thing that creates a backlash and could cost the Republicans the majority in the House, which is after all the last line of defense against the president. And it could materially undercut the ability of the Republicans in the Senate to have the majority in 2014, which they have a decent chance to do," he added. "And it could materially undercut the ability of the Republicans in the Senate to have the majority in 2014, which they have a decent chance to do."
Find your senator here and let them know if you want them to support or reject Lee's effort to defund Obamacare.
Featured image via AP