In the wee hours of Friday morning, Sen. John McCain killed the last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to partially dismantle Obamacare, a “skinny repeal” bill.
And while the votes were being cast to repeal crucial parts of Obamacare, in which the Arizona senator voted along side Democrats, McCain greeted Democrats with big smiles and issued hugs to Senators Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska planned on opposing the measure from the start — McCain’s vote surprised many on Capitol Hill.
The Hill reports:
McCain cast the “no” vote two days after a dramatic return to the Senate floor during which he called on his colleagues to work together on major issues such as healthcare reform, which has long been a Senate tradition until the upsurge of partisanship in recent years.
McCain has emerged this year as one of President Trump’s most outspoken critics in Congress and the late-night vote cements his status as a maverick, a role he relished earlier in his career when President George W. Bush occupied the White House.
The bare-bones healthcare proposal, dubbed the “skinny” repeal because it left untouched big sections of ObamaCare, would have resulted in 16 more million people being without insurance in a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO also estimated that it would increase premiums by 20 percent compared to current law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed it as a backup proposal after Republicans failed to agree on a bigger repeal that repealed and replaced the pillars of ObamaCare or a repeal-only measure that passed both chambers in 2015.
McConnell appeared almost distraught after McCain’s surprise vote and seemed close to choking up on the floor after falling short of his promise to repeal ObamaCare.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” he said.
“I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time. Now, I imagine many of our colleagues on the other side are celebrating. Probably pretty happy about all this. But the American people are hurting, and they need relief.”
Many Republican senators, however, did not support the substance of the so-called skinny legislation. They decided to vote for it as a way to prolong the healthcare negotiation by setting up a conference negotiation with the House.
Still, McCain’s vote surprised many Republicans including Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.), who said he thought the Arizona Republican was in favor of the legislation.
Vice President Pence was spotted lobbying McCain on the Senate floor shortly before the crucial vote. He also worked on Collins while other GOP leaders focused on Murkowski.
But those efforts fell short.
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