(Bloomberg) — A Republican senator who said earlier he opposed his party’s House bill to repeal core Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provisions is now “strongly leaning” toward supporting the Senate version of the measure.
Such a decision by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah would increase the chances that the Republican-controlled Congress can send a partial repeal of PPACA — Obamacare — to President Barack Obama for the first time. The president has said he would veto legislation that would destroy much of his signature domestic achievement, and Democrats in Congress would be able to block an override.
Lee in October joined two other Senate Republicans in saying they opposed legislation passed by the House, H.R. 3762, because it wasn’t a full repeal of PPACA. The measure also would strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood.
The Senate plans to vote this week on a revised version of the measure, which could be passed with a simple majority under a process called reconciliation that bars Democrats from demanding a 60-vote threshold.
Lee “is very encouraged by what is in the reconciliation bill, but we are waiting until the parliamentarian has signed off on the full text before we say anything publicly,” Conn Carroll, a Lee spokesman, said in an email. Lee is “strongly leaning” toward supporting the Senate bill, the spokesman said.
Lee and fellow Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas — both seeking the party’s 2016 presidential nomination — said in an October statement the House bill “isn’t good enough” because it doesn’t fully repeal PPACA. “If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare subject to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill,” the three senators said.