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WASHINGTON—Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) told Greta Van Susteren yesterday that Congress should avoid a prolonged government shutdown by passing a series of smaller funding bills.

“Earlier today we saw in the Senate republicans and democrats coming together unanimously approving pay for full time active duty military personnel,” said Senator Lee. “We did that unanimously. And I think that can be a model for us making sure that a government shutdown doesn't occur in various areas of the government—the majority of areas of government—where there is not a whole lot of controversy. I’m working on a bill right now that would keep us funded with respect to other areas of the Department of Defense and Veterans affairs, for example. Now, keep us funded with respect to other areas and veterans affairs, for example. We need to keep our border control and our TSA going. My bill would do that—I’m working on that bill right now, I’ve got staff up late working on that. I think that’s another area where we can get these things funded so we can soften any impact to the shut down and avoid a shut down altogether in many areas of the government. “

The full transcript is available below:

Greta: Senator, tell me what do you think is going happen? The house republicans going to negotiate a little bit? Do you expect the senate democrats to give a little bit?

Lee: Republicans have negotiated and have moved substantially. We've seen no movement whatever from democrats in the senate and from the White House. Americans demand more and deserve more, but I'll tell you there is one area that should give us comfort and encouragement. Earlier today we saw in the senate republicans and democrats coming together unanimously approving pay for full time active duty military personnel. We did that unanimously. And I think that can be a model for us making sure that a government shutdown doesn't occur in various areas of the government—the majority of areas of government—where there is not a whole lot of controversy. I’m working on a bill right now that would keep us funded with respect to other areas of the Department of Defense and Veterans affairs, for example. Now, keep us funded with respect to other areas and veterans affairs, for example. We need to keep our border control and our TSA going. My bill would do that—I’m working on that bill right now, I’ve got staff up late working on that. I think that’s another area where we can get these things funded so we can soften any impact to the shut down and avoid a shut down altogether in many areas of the government.

Greta: Is the only dispute—is the main area of dispute…is the real issue what Republicans don't want to fund ObamaCare is that the issue that’s stopping us?

Lee: Yes, that is the issue. Republicans don't want to fund ObamaCare. This is a law the president is not following.  This is a law that the president has said himself isn't ready to be implemented. This is a law that has been described by its own sponsor as a train wreck. It's causing millions of Americans to lose jobs we're not willing to fund it. We are, however, willing to fund active duty military pay, we’re willing to fund the Department of Defense, we’re willing to fund Homeland Security. But we’re not willing to fund ObamaCare.

Greta:  If the president said – and this is hypothetically – will you fund the original Obamacare without all the carve outs, exemptions, or waivers, would that make a difference to you or not?

Lee:  You know, it might well.  And it's interesting to point out Greta that if we were dealing with that – if that is all we'd been dealing with – this idea would never have gotten momentum in July.  What caused me to kickstart this movement and start suggesting to my colleagues and my counterparts in the House back in July that we defund Obamacare was the president's decision that he would not follow the law – his own announcement that the law wasn't ready to implement.  Our reaction was that if the president isn't willing to follow this law, then we shouldn't fund it's implementation.

Greta:  I suspect that you have a lot of contacts in the House.  What do you think the speaker is thinking tonight?  How does he resolve this from the House side?

Lee:  You know, it's difficult.  He's in a difficult spot.  He's moved a number of compromise efforts, and those have been rejected flatly by the Senate each time with only minimum debate and discussion.  Again, I think it is important to recognize where we have made progress with something the House passed late Saturday night relative to active duty military pay.  We passed that by unanimous consent today.  This provides a model when we couple it with what the president said just hours ago.  He said he's concerned about Border Patrol – he's concerned about these other areas where there isn't much controversy.  We can pass other bills, keeping government funded in these areas and we can do it just fine without funding Obamacare.  These areas have nothing to do with Obamacare.

Greta:  The president says that Obamacare is the saw.  The Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional, and it's the job of Congress to fund the law.  So what does he do to get a law funded that he says is the law of the land?  What does he do about that?

Lee:  I love this argument, because it frames our argument perfectly.  If ObamaCare is the law, if that is the argument, then it undercuts them.  Because he's not following the law.  He's not willing to follow ObamaCare as written, and he has rewritten it three to four times depending on which count you take.  As he continues to depart from the law, that undercuts his argument that we ought to just follow the law.  He's not willing to do that.

Greta: Going back to my earlier question.  Would you be fine with going back to the originally signed ObamaCare without all the exemptions, and changes, and waivers, and everything else?  You don't like it.  I understand that point, but that would be your responsibility at that point to fund that law?

Lee:  I don't know that we can go back.  What I'm saying is that had that been all we were dealing with, had he never opened this door in July, I don't think the defund ObamaCare movement would have taken off.  I don't think dontfundit.com would have gotten two million signatures in just a few weeks, because Americans would never have looked at this and seen the hypocrisy of a president saying, "I'm forcing this law on you – a law that you never wanted, and a law I'm not willing to follow."  That's the reason this has taken off like it has.  Because the president isn't willing to follow his own law.