GOP Senator Mike Lee Won't Support His Party's Health Care Bill

by Samantha Mendoza
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been working for months to rally GOP-support for a new health care plan, two GOP senators ruined his chances of passing the current version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act just yet. Utah Senator Mike Lee will vote against the health care bill, he confirmed in a statement on Monday.

After conferring with trusted experts regarding the latest version of the Consumer Freedom Amendment, I have decided I cannot support the current version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act. In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.

Lee, who has represented Utah since 2010, has been described by Politico as "one of the Senate’s most principled conservatives and deepest thinkers." Lee was reportedly a member of the group tasked with drafting a version of the health care legislation, but became frustrated with the group's lack of transparency.

"It's apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate," Lee said in June after being kept in the dark himself about what exactly was in the bill.

Lee collaborated with Texas Senator Ted Cruz to propose an amendment to the health care bill that would allow insurers to sell plans that do not meet ObamaCare regulations if they also sell a plan that does meet those rules.

While a version of this amendment was included in the most recent draft of the bill, Lee stated that he did not agree on the language, or even see it before it was added to the bill.

Lee has been an outspoken critic of the GOP's new health care plan throughout its various iterations. Although he is a staunch opponent of Obamacare, and has stated that the system is "collapsing," Lee advocates for a health care bill with "humility" that would help Americans get "better, more affordable coverage" while fully repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Lee's announcement that he will not support the motion to move forward on the BCRA came at the same time Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas said that he will also vote no on the bill. This puts the tally of opposed GOP Senators up to four, and since the bill can only afford to lose three votes, the current version of the BCRA has no chance of passing the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday night that he now plans to repeal Obamacare before agreeing on a health care replacement plan.