Lee Open to Filibuster, Depending on Definition of Filibuster
Days ahead of a potential government shutdown, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Republicans need to not let Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) "gut" the continuing resolution sent over from the House that defunds Obamacare.
"You know, we don't always agree all the time on every single vote. And sometimes we disagree. But I think, as Republicans, we do stand behind the idea that we need to stop Obamacare. We need to fight it. We need to stop it any way we can, even though some of us might have different ideas about how best to get there," Lee said last night on Fox.
The senator said he and his group of colleagues "proved wrong" those who said "there's no point in fighting for a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare -- funds government but defunds Obamacare."
"The American people spoke out. The House, to its credit, stayed with the American people. The House, to its credit, decided to back up the American people and say, yes, we're going to do everything we can to protect you from this law. And now it's the Senate's turn. It's our job now to move that forward and to stand behind what the House did and not let Harry Reid gut what the House of Representatives passed last week," Lee said.
"We need to tell him in very clear terms there are a couple ways he can handle this. Number one, he can bring this bill up, the House-passed continuing resolution, and let us vote for it up or down, as is. Number two, he can bring it up and say, We're going to allow amendments. We'll allow Democrats and Republicans to introduce amendments. We will debate those. We'll discuss them. We'll vote on them. Either one of those is just fine," he continued.
"What's not fine if he wants to say, Oh, I want my cake and eat it, too. I want to have one amendment and one amendment only, and that one amendment will be to strip out the defunding language, to gut what the House did in support of the American people. We can't let him have that."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Reid yesterday for a 60-vote threshold on amendments, but was denied.
"I don't know any of my Republican colleagues who would oppose either door number one or door number two. I cant' speak for them, but I'm pretty confident that we would all be comfortable with either door number one or door number two," Lee said of the options he outlined. "What I'm saying ought to be off-limits is door number three. If he pulls door number three, we ought to, as Republicans, oppose that. We have to oppose him with everything we've got, with anything that's going to make it easier for him to undo what the House of Representatives did."
Lee said he would "oppose any procedural motion" to move forward a CR that doesn't block Obamacare funding. When asked if that meant filibuster, he replied, "Some people would call it that. The word filibuster carries a lot of different connotations in the United States."
A talking filibuster would be a "possibility."
"It's not always a possibility, given the procedural framework in which we find ourselves, given whether or not there is a floor agreement governing time," Lee said. "But another definition of filibuster includes voting no on what's called a cloture vote. And that is the mechanism by which we could fight Harry Reid on door number three, to vote no on what's called a cloture vote, cloture on the bill."
Lee added that the caucus is going to have a meeting today where the issue of anonymous GOP aides talking against Cruz "might come up."
"I think we're going to have a vote on Wednesday. Where exactly it goes from there will depend in part on what Harry Reid pushes. But again, if what Harry Reid's going to try to do is gut the House bill, if what he's going to try to do is take this out, not let us have any amendments but put in only his amendment that would strip the defunding language, then I think we've got to oppose it," he said.