|United States Senator
January 3, 2011
Serving with Orrin Hatch
|Preceded by||Bob Bennett|
|Born||Michael Shumway Lee
June 4, 1971
Mesa, Arizona, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Sharon Burr (1993–present)|
|Education||Brigham Young University,
Utah (BA, JD)
Michael Shumway "Mike" Lee (born June 4, 1971) is an American politician and lawyer who is the junior United States Senator from Utah. A member of the Republican Party, Lee has served in the U.S. Senate since January 3, 2011.
Born in Mesa, Arizona, Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University. Lee began his career as a clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah before serving as a clerk for future Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who was then a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He then entered private practice with the Sidley Austin law firm in Washington D.C. In 2002, Lee returned to his home state to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, a position he held until 2005. Subsequently, he joined the administration of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, serving as the general counsel in the office of the governor from 2005 to 2006. Lee then reentered private practice in Washington D.C., with Howrey LLP.
In 2010, at the beginning of the Tea Party movement, Lee posed a primary challenge to incumbent three term Republican Senator Bob Bennett. Lee went on to defeat Bennett and business owner Tim Bridgewater during the nominating process at Utah Republican Party Convention. He then defeated Democratic candidate Sam Granato in the general election with 61% of the vote to Granato's 32%. Lee is the son of Rex E. Lee, Solicitor General under President Reagan and founding Dean of J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.
Lee was born in Mesa, Arizona on June 4, 1971, the son of Janet (née Griffin) and Rex E. Lee. His family moved to Provo, Utah one year later, when his father became the founding dean of Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School. While Lee spent about half of his childhood years in Utah, he spent the other half in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. His father served first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney General (overseeing the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Ford Administration) from 1975 until 1976, and then as the U.S. Solicitor General (charged with representing the United States government before the Supreme Court during the first term of the Reagan Administration) from 1981 until 1985. Lee is of English, Swiss, and Danish descent on his father's side.
Growing up, Lee went to school with Senator Strom Thurmond's daughter and lived three doors down from Senator Robert Byrd. He was friends with Harry Reid's son Josh. Senator Reid was the Lees' home teacher. Lee recalls as a child how Senator Reid once locked him and Josh in their garage as a practical joke. According to Lee, the Reid family were the first Democrats he knew well and it was dealing with them that showed him the importance of being able to defend his political views in discussion with those who held other views.
After graduating from Timpview High School (Provo, Utah) in 1989, Lee attended Brigham Young University as an undergraduate student, receiving a BS in political science in 1994. He served as the president of BYUSA, a prominent student service organization, and as student body president, during the 1993–1994 school year, serving together with his father, Rex E. Lee, who was president of BYU at the time. Lee received his J.D. from BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1997.
After graduation from law school in 1997, Lee served as a law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. The following year, he clerked for then-Judge Samuel Alito, who was serving at that time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court. After finishing his clerkships, Lee joined the Washington, D.C. office of Sidley Austin, where he specialized in appellate and Supreme Court litigation. Several years later, Lee returned to Utah to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Salt Lake City, preparing briefs and arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He served as general counsel to Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. from January 2005 until June 2006, when he returned to Washington to serve a one-year clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court with Justice Alito. Lee returned to Utah (and to private practice) in the summer of 2007, joining the Salt Lake office of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Howrey LLP. Lee focused on courtroom advocacy and constitutional law.
As an attorney, Lee also represented Class A low-level radioactive waste facility provider EnergySolutions Inc. in a highly publicized dispute between the company and the Utah public and public officials that caused controversy during his Senate election. Utah's government had allowed the company to store radioactive waste in the state so long as it was low-grade "Class A" material. When the company arranged to store waste from Italy, many objected to the waste being foreign and that it could potentially be more radioactive than permitted. Lee argued that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution allowed the company to accept foreign waste and that the waste could be reduced in grade by mixing it with lower grade materials, while the government of Utah sought to ban the importation of foreign waste using an interstate radioactive waste compact. EnergySolutions eventually abandoned its plans to store Italian radioactive waste in Utah, ending the dispute, with the 10th U.S. Circuit court later ruling that the compact had the power to block foreign radioactive waste from being stored in Utah.
In 2017, Mike Lee voted to prevent online and telecommunication privacy protections from taking effect.
In 2011, Mike Lee voted to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. In 2013, he voted to make it harder for Congress to put a price on carbon through a point of order opposing a carbon tax or a fee on carbon emissions. The vote did not pass. At a May 2016 event, he stated that it "has long been obvious that the Democratic Party’s assertion that the science of climate change is “settled” is little more than a cheap public-relations ploy masquerading as a monopoly on scientific knowledge”.
Lee ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. At the Republican State Convention, he received 982 votes (28.75%) on the first ballot, defeating[clarification needed] Tim Bridgewater and incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett. Bridgewater, however, won the second and third ballots to win the party endorsement. Both Bridgewater and Lee received enough support to have their names placed on the primary ballot.
In the primary election, held on June 22, 2010, Lee became the Republican nominee by winning 51 percent of the vote against Bridgewater's 49 percent.
In 2011, Club for Growth gave him a 100% score. Only four other U.S. Senators received a perfect score: Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn. He also received a 100% Conservative voting record for 2011 from the American Conservative Union. The Heritage Foundation gave him a 99% score, ranking first only with DeMint. The only wrong vote he made, in the opinion of the Heritage Foundation, was voting for the GSE Bailout Elimination and Taxpayer Protection Act, which would privatize Fannie and Freddy. However, he received a Liberal Action score of 38%.
In February 2011, Lee was one of two Republicans, along with Rand Paul of Kentucky, to vote against extending the three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that deal with roving wiretaps, "lone wolf" terrorism suspects, and the government's ability to seize "any tangible items" in the course of surveillance. He voted in the same manner in May 2011.
On December 1, 2011, Lee was one of only seven U.S. Senators, and one of only three Republicans, to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. He opposed the bill because of concerns over Section 1021, the section of the bill that gives the Armed Forces the power to indefinitely detain any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners", and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the AUMF".
In April 2011, Lee joined with Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and fellow Senate Tea Party Caucus member Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to propose a plan they claimed would extend the financial viability of the U.S. Social Security retirement payment system. The three Senators' reform proposal (called the Social Security Solvency and Sustainability Act) was notable because it did not propose any tax increases to ensure solvency. Instead, it suggested that the $5.4 trillion difference between what was then funded and what had been promised could be eliminated by increasing the retirement age to 70 by the year 2032, and slightly reducing the benefits paid to upper-income recipients.
In 2013, Lee proposed a bill with the aim "to focus limited Federal resources on the most serious offenders" together with Dick Durbin (D) and Patrick Leahy (D). The bill would reduce some minimum sentences for drug-related offenses by half.
Lee was criticized by Republican Sen. John McCain and others for being overly vocal in his criticism of other Republicans and for obstructing a deal to end the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.
in 2016, Lee used a procedural hold to block a vote on federal assistance for the Flint, Michigan water crisis. He was initially part of a group of senators blocking $220 million in aid to repair lead contaminated pipes but, due to public pressure, Lee became the last opposing senator. While initially anonymous, multiple sources leaked Lee's opposition to the media.
Lee has sponsored 45 bills of his own, including:
Lee married Sharon Burr in 1993. They live in Alpine, Utah and have three children, John David, James Rex, and Eliza Rose Lee. Lee is a second cousin to former U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and current U.S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, as well as former Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon.
Lee has served on the BYU alumni board, the BYU Law School alumni board, and as a long-time member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Lee earned the Eagle Scout award from Boy Scouts of America in 1989 and was selected to receive the National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award (NOESA) in 2011.
Mike Lee's brother, Thomas R. Lee, is a Justice on the Utah Supreme Court.
|U.S. Senate Republican Primary Election in Utah, 2010|
|U.S. Senate Election in Utah, 2010|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mike Lee.|
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Utah
|Chair of the Senate Republican Steering Committee
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Utah
Served alongside: Orrin Hatch
|Baby of the Senate
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority