After campaigning for years on repealing Obamacare, Senator John McCain was one of the deciding votes to shoot down an amendment that would have gutted it.
The vote took place around 1:30 a.m. Friday, and McCain, along with Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine were the three GOP senators to vote “no” on the “Skinny Repeal” amendment to Obamacare. The legislation failed on a 49-51 vote tally.
Standing directly in front of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, McCain walked up to the front of the chamber and issued a firm thumbs down. He stared at McConnell after doing so, turned the corner and walked down the aisle back to his desk.
Watch the video of McCain voting below:
McCain’s decisive vote comes just two days after he made a dramatic return to Senate following brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
“As I stand here today — looking a little worse for wear I’m sure — I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate,” McCain said during his speech Tuesday.
McCain released a statement after voting against the repeal, saying that the amendment that was brought forth “would not accomplish” his goals of finding something that would increase competition, lower costs and improve care for Americans.
While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.
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. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace. We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.
After the vote, both and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and McConnell had an opportunity to address Senate before it was dismissed.
Schumer thanked McCain for his vote and said it’s time members of Senate heed his advice.
“All of us were so inspired by the speech and the life of the senator from Arizona,” Schumer said.
The senator from New York added that it’s imperative that his colleagues work together to fix Obamacare instead of repealing it outright without a viable replacement.
“It’s time to turn the page,” he said. “I would say to my dear friend, the majority leader, we are not celebrating. We are relieved that millions and millions of people that would have been so drastically hurt by the three proposals put forward will at least retain their healthcare, be able to deal with pre-existing conditions, deal with nursing homes and opioids that Medicaid paid for.
“We are relieved. Not for ourselves, but for the American people.”
McConnell, who had tried to move forward with the outright repeal of Obamacare, was understandably upset with the result.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell said. “From skyrocketing costs to plummeting choices and collapsing markets, our constituents have suffered through an awful lot with Obamacare. We thought they deserved better, it’s why I and many of my colleagues did as we promised and voted to repeal this failed law.”
The “Skinny Repeal” legislation was finally unveiled by Senate Republicans around 10 p.m. EDT Thursday, and it would have repealed the individual and employer mandates of the Affordable Care Act. It would’ve also temporarily repealed the medical device tax, CNN reported. In addition, the legislation would give each state a bit more flexibility in allowing health insurance that doesn’t comply with the language in Obamacare.
However, the “Skinny Repeal” bill would have added another 16 million uninsured people by 2026 under Obamacare, a report released by the Congressional Budget Office said.