I chose Senator Michael Shumway “Mike” Lee as my very important person (VIP) for this week because of his outstanding record of standing for conservative values. I have liked Senator Mike Lee since he was campaigning for Senator. I do not know him or any of his family personally, but I do know his father’s reputation. As soon as I learned that Mike Lee was the son of Rex E. Lee, I wanted to know more about him. Everything I learned caused me to like him more and more. I am grateful to have him in the U.S. Senate!
I learned of Rex E. Lee when he became the tenth president of Brigham Young University (BYU). I gained a lot of respect for him in this position and only later learned of his law experience. He was a Constitutional lawyer, a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, and the United States Solicitor General under the Reagan administration. He argued 59 cases before the U.S Supreme Court. He was the founding dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU.
Senator Lee is an Eagle Scout, a former missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Republican, and the junior United States Senator from Utah. Like his father, he is a constitutional lawyer in Utah and Washington, D.C. He served as a clerk for then-Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
By all accounts, Senator Lee is a true conservative and has been embraced by the Tea Party. “In 2011, Club for Growth gave him a 100% score. Only four other U.S. Senators received a perfect score: Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn. He also received a 100% Conservative voting record for 2011 from the American Conservative Union. The Heritage Foundation gave him a 99% score, ranking first only with DeMint. The only wrong vote he made, in the opinion of the Heritage Foundation, was voting for the GSE Bailout Elimination and Taxpayer Protection Act that would privatize Fannie and Freddy.”
Senator Lee and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) were the only two Republicans to vote against extending three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act in February 2011. He repeated his action in May 2011.
“On December 01, 2011, Lee was one of only seven U.S. Senators, and one of only three Republicans, to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. He vetoed because of concerns over Section 1021, the section of the bill that gives the Armed Forces the power to indefinitely detain any person (including U.S. citizens) `who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners’, and anyone who commits a `belligerent act’ against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, `without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]’.
With all of his accomplishments, I chose Senator Lee as my VIP because of his principled stance on Obamacare. Along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Lee has worked tirelessly to defund Obamacare. On July 17, 2013, Senator Lee spoke about the need to defund Obamacare: “It is fundamentally unfair for President Obama to exempt businesses from the onerous burdens of his law, while forcing American families and individuals into Obamacare’s unsound and unstable system.” The full text of Senator Lee’s remarks along with audio can be found here.
Senators Cruz and Lee are leading an effort in Congress to use mandatory spending bills to defund Obamacare. Lee and some of his colleagues have called on Democrats to pass a bill that would fund the government but also defund the health care law. If Congress does not pass a bill to extend funding of government, the federal government will have to shut down – temporarily – on October 1, 2013. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to fund government without funding Obamacare last week, and Senator Lee later spoke at a news conference about how the Republicans do not want to shutdown government.
“A shutdown is too much. We don’t want a shutdown, we don’t need a shutdown. We should avoid a shutdown, and Obamacare is a law that’s going to harm people. It certainly is not a good idea to shut down the government in order to force through the implementation of Obamacare at a time when the president has said he’s not going to follow the law and he’s made substantial changes.” He added, “Shutdowns are bad, shutdowns are not worth it; this law is not worth causing a shutdown over.”
The Democrats will probably use Senator Lee’s words to press their cause without using them in correct context. The bottom line is, the Republicans want to fund the federal government without funding Obamacare, and the Democrats are willing to shut down the federal government if Obamacare is not funded. The whole thing will probably get uglier before it gets better, but I admire Senator Lee and Senator Cruz for standing on their principles and trying to help Americans.
Senator Lee continues to affirm that the effort to defund Obamacare will not lead to a government shutdown. When asked about a potential shut down of the federal government on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Senator Lee said, “No. We all know that the government is going to be funded. The question is whether it will be funded with Obamacare or without.” The supporters of the Defund Obamacare movement have declared that they will not support a budget that funds Obamacare, and the Democrats insist on funding Obamacare. I expect to see a show down before the government is funded – with or without funding Obamacare.
I believe that we can know a lot about a person by the words they speak. Here are just a few quotes from Senator Lee.
“I want to be one that is willing to do things that are not easy but that need to be done.”
“We can’t legislate the creation of jobs, but we can legislate things that will allow jobs to be created.”
“We ought to have more people who believe in constitutionally limited government. We have to have more people come to Congress with that mindset. I think we can make this a better place, if, when elections happen, we support candidates who share that philosophy.”
“I would vote against raising the national debt ceiling. Again, this is about mortgaging the future of unborn generations of Americans. It’s a form of taxation with representation. I don’t think we can do that.”
“Whether it’s a penalty or a tax, it’s all one and the same. It’s coming out of somebody’s hard-earned money in their pocketbooks and that’s the point. So in some ways, to me, it’s a distinction without a difference.”