Sen. Mike Lee to fellow Republicans: Hold up on gun bill

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

While Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was apparently knee-deep in the Senate negotiations that resulted in a gun control agreement. Of course, this is Mitt Romney we’re talking about, so no one is overly shocked.

Yet Utah’s other senator is very different, and that’s Sen. Mike Lee.

He wasn’t involved in the negotiations. He’s also telling his GOP colleagues to hold their horses on this deal.

A top Republican senator warned his fellow lawmakers Sunday against throwing their support behind the framework of new gun control legislation until the actual bill text has been hammered out.

“There is still no deal, and yet we continue to be asked by colleagues, by constituents, by reporters, ‘Are you supporting the bill?’” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told “Fox News Sunday.

“This is a very dangerous way to legislate,” he added. “Behind closed doors – you need the transparency of a public conversation with the bill text in front of you.”

“I personally refuse to indicate whether I, or how I will vote on a bill until after I’ve seen the text because there are a lot of things that can go wrong,” Lee went on.

Lee’s comments came just days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters he would support the legislation if the bill text matched the outline introduced last week. 

Now, I’m a little miffed that Lee isn’t dismissing the agreement out of hand–gun control should be dismissed just that quickly–but I think I get where he’s coming from despite that.

After all, once people are on the record as supporting a bill that hasn’t been written, even if the bill changes, they’re almost locked in. They can say they’re withdrawing support because the text doesn’t match the agreement, but it’s still going to get spun that they withdrew their support.

By not offering any in the first place until a bill has been written and introduced, you avoid that.

And let’s not pretend that’s not a very real possibility, either. Anti-gunners are notorious for shifting the goalposts, so why would this be any different?

The truth is that Lee is right. Even if a lawmaker wants to support this bill, they shouldn’t until they see just what’s in it, then decide.

Of course, once they do, they need to be prepared for the repercussions. Those aren’t going to necessarily go away no matter what you do except refuse to support this travesty of a bill.

Will Lee support the bill once it’s written? My guess is that he won’t–he ain’t Mitt Romney, after all–and he made have decided it’s smarter to play his cards close to the vest so no one knows for sure where he’ll come down on any bill.

But this whole, “Yes, I support the unwritten bill” is beyond stupid and will likely come up to bite Republicans on the back side before it’s all said and done.

The Republican Party: Determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

Absolutely brilliant.