SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mike Lee has openly spoken of his hopes to stop funding the Affordable Care Act with a government shutdown. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, however, is warning against such an act.
Speaking to a private group of approximately 200 Republican fundraisers in Wolfeboro, N.H., Romney warned of a government shutdown, saying the proposed plan would have political consequences for the party in the coming years.
"Emotion is understandably at play in Washington among some of our fellow Republicans," he said, according to prepared remarks. "I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government. What would come next?"
Under a government shutdown, Romney said he was hesitant to remove funding for military members, seniors who would not receive Social Security and Medicare check and the FBI agents who would be forced off duty. Above all, he said his biggest fear was that the Affordable Care Act would still be funded and that the party would suffer politically.
"I'm afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next election and the people of the nation would not be happy," he said. "I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare. And we should work to replace it with healthcare reforms that actually lower costs and give patients — not government — control over their own healthcare."
While Romney did not criticize anyone by name, he opposed the strategy of some of the biggest names in the party, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee.
"I'm probably not the first person you'd ask for advice," Romney said, citing his recent loss to Pres. Barack Obama as his reason. "But because we all learn from our mistakes, I may have a thought or two of value."
Speaking to Fox News in July, Sen. Lee said a government shutdown was the "last stop" before the individual mandate and insurance exchanges were set to take effect.
"Congress of course has to pass a law to continue funding government — lately we've been doing that through a funding mechanism called a continuing resolution," Lee said. "If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it. We can stop the individual mandate from going into effect."
I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government. What would come next?
In the weeks following, however, Sen. Lee admitted that a government shutdown would not work; that the government would be funded.
"We all know that the government's going to get funded," Lee said on "Fox New Sunday" on July 28. "The question is whether the government gets funded with Obamacare or without it."
Sen. Lee has asked Americans to send letters to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. encouraging him to defund the ACA.
"I call on all Americans who oppose the unfair implementation of the president's health care law to join us in the effort to fund the government, but not Obamacare," he said. "If the president can't follow his law, then the American people shouldn't fund it."
Last week, the House voted for the 40th time to repeal the ACA, with a 232-185 vote in vote of a repeal. The vote, however, is symbolic because the Democratic-controlled Senate will not take up the measure.