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On Monday, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) announced he would lead an effort to defund Obamacare, in another desperate (and almost certainly unsuccessful) attempt to unravel the law. Lee’s plan involves blocking any continuing resolution or appropriations bill that would provide funding for the Affordable Care Act.

As of Tuesday, Lee only has 11 other GOP signers backing his effort.

Despite most Republicans’ desire to repeal Obamacare, most are not signing Lee’s letter. Actually, many GOP senators are doing more than simply not signing; they are completely rejecting constant urging from top conservatives like Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Some are even speaking out against the effort publicly.

Read on to find out which GOP senators stand against Senator Lee in this latest GOP civil war.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via

Tom Coburn



Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is no fan of Obamacare. In fact, in a phone interview with The Washington Examiner, Coburn admitted he would “love to defund” the Affordable Care Act, and would “be leading the charge if I thought this would work.”

But, he concludes, “It will not work,” arguing that Republicans do not have the votes to cut off Obamacare, and that leading an effort to do so is “dishonest.”

Coburn warns others in the GOP that they are not “going to stop the funding,” but rather “shut down the government.” He also says that supporting Mike Lee means supporting him “in destroying the Republican Party.”

The senator even exposes the lack of experience of his GOP counterparts on the opposite side of the debate when he notes that he is the only one “among the group of senators that [have] been considering this” who was serving in Congress during the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996.

Coburn’s comments caused fellow Republican Ted Cruz’s chief of staff Chip Roy to send out several tweets attacking the remarks.

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Richard Burr



Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) called the effort the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.”

Echoing Coburn’s warning, Burr stated, “I think some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you’d better have a specific reason to do it that’s achievable.”

In what seemed to be an indirect response to Burr’s remarks, Senator Rubio told Politico, “For those who are saying it’s not achievable, I would say to them, ‘If it’s not achievable it’s because they are basically conceding defeat before they even try.'”

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Roy Blunt



On efforts to defund Obamacare, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) told MSNBC simply, “No, I don’t support that.

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John McCain



Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has expressed his desire to repeal Obamacare, but says that defunding it is not possible, and will not pave the way for positive results.

During a radio interview, McCain said, “Some would like to set up another one of these shut-down-the-government threats. And most Americans are really tired of those kinds of shenanigans here in Washington.”

On Twitter, McCain wrote, “I agree with my friend Dr. Coburn,” implying that McCain, too, feels that defunding the healthcare reform is more than just “shenanigans,” but also dishonest on behalf of the Republicans carrying out the plan.

He also noted that “So far … there’s not a lot of Republicans that believe this is the right path.”

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Bob Corker



Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) labeled the effort “silly.”

He added: “I don’t look at that as very courageous.”

Corker, too, went on to criticize the 11 Republicans behind Lee’s effort as not having “the courage to roll up our sleeves and deal with real deficit reduction and spending decisions,” and claimed they “want to take ourselves [Republicans] out of the debate and act like we’re being principled to the American people.”

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John Cornyn



Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) had initially signed on to Senator Lee’s pledge, but has since withdrawn his support, after having “second thoughts.”

He is one of three GOP senators who have removed their names from Lee’s letter, the two others being Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Cornyn also warned that an attempt to defund Obamacare will only lead to a government shutdown, which he said is “a good way for Republicans to lose the House.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via

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At this moment, the president of the United States is threatening to "throw out" the votes of millions of Americans to hijack an election that he seems more than likely to lose. Donald Trump is openly demanding that state authorities invalidate lawful absentee ballots, no different from the primary ballot he mailed to his new home state of Florida, for the sole purpose of cheating. And his undemocratic scheme appears to enjoy at least nominal support from the Supreme Court, which may be called upon to adjudicate the matter.

But what is even worse than Trump's coup plot — and the apparent assent of unprincipled jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is the Democratic Party's feeble response to this historic outrage. It is the kind of issue that Republicans, with their well-earned reputation for political hardball, would know how to exploit fully and furiously.

They know because they won the same game in Florida 20 years ago.

During that ultimate legal showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when every single vote mattered, a Democratic lawyer argued in a memorandum to the Gore team that the validity of absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be challenged. He had the law on his side in that particular instance — but not the politics.

As soon as the Republicans got hold of that memo, they realized that it was explosive. Why? Many of the late ballots the Democrats aimed to invalidate in Florida had been sent by military voters, and the idea of discarding the votes of service personnel was repellent to all Americans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, who was overseeing the Florida recount for Bush, swiftly denounced the Democratic plot against the soldiers, saying: "Here we have ... these brave young men and women serving us overseas. And the postmark on their ballot is one day late. And you're going to deny him the right to vote?"

Never mind the grammar; Baker's message was powerful — and was followed by equally indignant messages in the following days from a parade of prominent Bush backers including retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the immensely popular commander of U.S. troops in the Desert Storm invasion that drove Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait. Fortuitously, Schwarzkopf happened to be on the scene as a resident of Florida.

As Jeffrey Toobin recounted in Too Close to Call, his superb book on the Florida 2000 fiasco, the Democrats had no choice but to retreat. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel," conceded then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, during a defensive appearance on Meet the Press. But Toobin says Gore soon realized that to reject military ballots would render him unable to serve as commander in chief — and that it would be morally wrong.

Fast-forward to 2020, when many of the same figures on the Republican side are now poised to argue that absentee ballots, which will include many thousands of military votes — should not be counted after Election Day, even if they arrived on time. Among those Republicans is Justice Kavanaugh, who made the opposite argument as a young lawyer working for Bush in Florida 20 years ago. Nobody expects legal consistency or democratic morality from a hack like him, but someone should force him and his Republican colleagues to own this moment of shame.

Who can do that? Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party ought to be exposing the Republican assault on military ballots — and, by the same token, every legally valid absentee ballot — every day. But the Democrats notoriously lack the killer instinct of their partisan rivals, even at a moment of existential crisis like this one.

No, this is clearly a job for the ex-Republicans of the Lincoln Project, who certainly recall what happened in Florida in 2000. They have the attitude and aptitude of political assassins. They surely know how to raise hell over an issue like military votes — and now is the time to exercise those aggressive skills in defense of democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at