Interviews

Sen. Mike Lee: This health bill is going to fail

On 'Your World,' the lawmaker says the AHCA does not repeal ObamaCare in its entirety

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 22, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  I want the read now from Utah Senator Mike Lee.

Senator, what is your sense on this?  I know you're not keen on this measure.  But, apparently, a lot of your colleagues who feel the same way, I'm talking about on the House side, their arms can be twisted.  What do you think?

SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UTAH:  This bill is going to fail.  

CAVUTO:  Really?

LEE:  It going to fail because it doesn't have enough support in the House of Representatives and it doesn't have enough support in the Senate.  

CAVUTO:  How do you know that?  

LEE:  Well, because I have talked to a whole lot of people, enough people that I know that it's going to fall short of a majority in the House and it's going to fall short of a majority in the Senate.  

CAVUTO:  Well, Paul Ryan is convinced, at least in the House, it's going to work.  Obviously, the Trump folks are convinced it's going to work.  

So, I'm not questioning.  I'm just saying each side is so confident in that respective outcome.  

LEE:  Right.  

Look, if they know something that I don't, then perhaps they will be smiling 24 hours from now.  

But if they're so confident, then they're not going to need to worry about my vote, they're not going to need to worry about the votes of a whole lot of other people in the House and in the Senate who are concerned that this bill doesn't do what we promised to do, which is repeal ObamaCare in its entirety, that we would repeal it and that we would get rid of especially those provisions of ObamaCare that have caused health care prices to escalate so sharply in the last few years, leaving hundreds of millions of Americans with a much higher health care bill that they can't afford.  

CAVUTO:  You know, Senator, the argument, I think, that Speaker Ryan was using today is, you're getting 80 percent of what you want.  I'm paraphrasing here, and probably sloppily, so I apologize.  

So, that's pretty good.  So, you're not going to get 100 percent of what you want.

LEE:  It's not true.  

CAVUTO:  And it's good for the party.  It's going to be good, I think by extension, he says, for getting the tax cut done.  What do you say to that?  

LEE:  It's just not accurate.  

Look, if we were getting 80 or 85 percent of what we wanted, I would be thrilled.  I would be ecstatic.  I would be voting for this.  

That's not what this is.  And it's a mischaracterization to say that. Look, I lined up the other day on a piece of paper all the things that we would want in a conservative repeal bill, either straight just a repeal or repeal plus replace.  

And then I lined up the things that this bill consists of.  This has a whole lot of priorities that are not conservative priorities that are not the priorities that we as Republicans ran on in 2016.  

And this bill will not bring down the price of health care.  And, according to the CBO report, it would even do less, a little bit less with respect to those who currently lack adequate health coverage.  

CAVUTO:  Senator, the argument for it -- I have no horse in this stable here, but one of the things that's been pushed is that, hey, conservatives like Mike Lee must love a trillion dollars in tax cuts, because that's what this will get you, this plan will get you over the next 10 years, if we go ahead and vote on what is being offered tomorrow.

That is an immediate rescinding of all of those tax increases built in to the Affordable Care Act.  You say what?  

LEE:  Well, first of all, it's not immediate.  

Those aren't going away immediately.

CAVUTO:  Well, they do say it's going to be pushed for 2017, rather than 2018.  But go ahead.

LEE:  OK.  Great.  So, they moved some of it up.  They also moved back the date for the Cadillac tax to resurface.  

CAVUTO:  Fair enough.  Fair enough.  

LEE:  Pushing yet another can out there for Congress to kick down the road later on.

Look, in the 2015 bill, we repealed all the taxes.  I don't see any reason why we should be doing any less than that with this bill.  

CAVUTO:  Let's say it fails tomorrow, if you could steer me through the process, Senator.

Can you just say, all right, we're going nowhere fast on this health care thing, let's proceed to the tax cuts?  Or is that out of the question?  

LEE:  No.  

First of all, I think we need to get right back at this and just repeal ObamaCare, repeal it in its entirety.  Now, if they want to add some reforms to that, great.  But let's do what we said we were going to do, and let's actually repeal ObamaCare.  

There are three buckets to ObamaCare.  You have got subsidies, you have got the taxes, and you have got the regulations.  Let's catch all three of those categories and repeal them, perhaps adding some free market reforms to those or perhaps taking those up in an iterative, step-by-step process after the fact.  

But let's at least get ObamaCare repealed.  That's been the one thing that has united Republicans over the last seven years.  

CAVUTO:  But you could live with getting this right before you even get to taxes?

Because the way I see you guys going -- I mean, I don't know.  I mean, if it fails tomorrow, it's possible, yes, everyone regroups, and then there's the spring recess and then there's the Arbor Day recess.  I don't know.  

Then I'm beginning to wonder, like, do we ever get around to these tax cuts?  Or do they happen at all?  And then we're in a midterm election year.  And Donald Trump was telling you guys, yesterday, hey, we could lose these midterms, we could lose our majority in the House and the Senate.

LEE:  Which is exactly what will happen if we don't do what we said we were going to do.  

So, I say, let's pass them.  Let's pass every aspect of ObamaCare repeal. Throw whatever else you want in there as well, but at least let's repeal ObamaCare.  That's what we promised we would do.  And that is also what is necessary to do in order to bring down the cost of health care and put the American people back in charge of their own health care decisions, rather than having them made by government bureaucrats in Washington.  

CAVUTO:  Real quickly on the Gorsuch hearings that are going on, of course, much of them sort of blacked out by the news media because of the attention to what happened in London today.  

But how do you think that is going?  And what is the likelihood that this will be an up-or-down vote by a simple majority or 60 votes?  

LEE:  I don't know what vote threshold he is going to receive.  But I do know this, Neil.  

We are going to confirm Judge Gorsuch, and with good reason.  This is a judge who has an absolutely outstanding, nearly flawless record of judicial service.  

The arguments raised against him an interesting.  And I would encourage you and all of your viewers to go out there and review what has happened today. In the last few hours, in the last two-and-a-half days, we have seen a number of my colleagues unfortunately casting aspersions on the federal judiciary, a judicial system that, while imperfect because it's run by humans, is the best of its kind in the world.  

CAVUTO:  OK, Senator.

LEE:  And we need to confirm this judge, because he's the best we have got.

CAVUTO:  All right, that's a good play on things, from criticizing a judge, which they did.  So, it's an interesting play.

Senator, thank you very much.

LEE:  Thank you.  

END

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