Before Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cast the deciding vote to kill the Senate’s effort to repeal Obamacare early Friday morning, he put on a dramatic show for onlookers, willfully ignoring pleas from his Republican colleagues on the Senate floor. In the end, two Republican Senators whose support was in doubt, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted no.
The so-called “skinny repeal” legislation would, among other things, have ended the requirements that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty, and that companies with 50 or more employees provide coverage to their workers.
Of the two failed votes earlier in the week, nine Republicans first joined all the Democrats in rejecting a proposed replacement health care bill crafted by McConnell.
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“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of “Obamacare” was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote”, McCain said.
Trump fumed at the loss after the vote, tweeting that the three Republicans “let the American people down”, linking them to the Democrats who were uniformly against the plan. “We’re relieved”, Senate Minority LeaderChuck Schumersaid after the vote.
“Too many people have been harmed to allow tonight’s vote to be the end”, the Wisconsin Republican said “In the coming weeks my committee will hold hearings to lay out the realities of our health care system, and I am committed to working with anyone who is serious about addressing these issues”. But they urged Senate leaders to take up an approach with both parties, rather than the Republican-only effort that characterized the various pushes to repeal or replace parts of the Affordable Care Act in recent weeks. If any change is to be made to U.S. healthcare law, Congress will have to begin the process of negotiating and writing a new bill again.
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GOP Senate leaderMitch McConnell has previously shown no inclination to change Senate rules. He said that he wanted assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan that the legislation would be worked out in a conference committee.
In the end, senators did not, as Lindsay Graham of SC said, want to vote for a “pig in a poke” simply for the exercise of passing something at the insistence of the president.
McCain, who returned to the Senate this week as he deals with brain cancer, voted against it.
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The early Friday morning vote came after a series of unsuccessful votes by Republicans this week to repeal Obamacare. Chris Coons, a Democrat from DE , had a feeling even earlier in the day that McCain may be on his side this time.
Whether repeal of the Affordable Care Act is really, most sincerely dead, as the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz was pronounced, remains to be seen. “Now we need to find the good ideas”, said Vigdor.