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Republican senator announces 'no' vote on Obamacare replacement, placing bill's future in jeopardy

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), speaking at the Freedom Summit in April 2014 in Manchester, New Hampshire, said he will not vote for the American Health Care Act. The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on the bill. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Mike Lee, the Republican senator from Utah and Tea Party favorite who for years advocated for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, says he will not vote for the American Health Care Act, the legislation proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and backed by President Donald Trump.

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on the bill, but it's unclear whether Republicans have the votes to get it through the lower chamber.

A number of House Republicans have said they will not support the bill because it amounts to "another entitlement" or "Obamacare Lite." Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) ripped the legislation in a tweet Monday, saying he couldn't recall a more "universally detested" bill since first being elected to Congress in 2010.

And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told TheBlaze last week that GOP leadership realized "they've got problems" when it came to garnering the support the Freedom Caucus members, such as himself.

Meanwhile, Trump and members of the House GOP leadership insist they have the votes to advance the legislation.

But the legislation will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate, as well — both from from Tea Party members and more moderate senators.

"I promised the people of Utah I would do everything I can to repeal #Obamacare. The House bill does not do that. I am a no. #FullRepeal," Lee tweeted.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called the bill "Obamacare Lite," suggesting he would not support it either. Paul has introduced his own bill in the Senate that would repeal Obamacare but not replace it.

“[After repeal] we can have a separate vote on replacement legislation that will deliver lower costs, better care, and greater access to the American people, Paul said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a moderate Republican from South Carolina, voiced opposition to the current bill. Instead, Graham suggested what he called "collapse and replace."

“What I would suggest,” Graham told TheBlaze last week, “is if we can’t improve the House bill ... that we let this program, designed by Democrats exclusively, voted on by Democrats exclusively, fail, and challenge Democrats to help clean up the mess they created."

"That’s the only way you’ll get a bipartisan result is collapse and replace," Graham said.

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