On Friday, Arizona Senator John McCain, who delivered the final blow to the previous attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, said he will vote no against his party’s current healthcare plan.
WASHINGTON â€” Arizona Sen. John McCain said Friday he will not support a last-gasp Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, making him the second Republican lawmaker to do so, casting significant doubt on theÂ GOP effort to repeal Obamacare.
With Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying he is opposed to the bill and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, saying she is â€œleaning no,â€ it appears Republicans do not have the 50 votes needed to pass the bill. Republicans can lose no more than two votes to pass a repeal.
â€œI cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in a statement.Â “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
To make a Sept. 30 deadline, Republican senators intended to bring the bill offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Bill Cassidy, R-La.,Â to the floor without the usual full analysisÂ from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.Â
Republicans, who have just a 52-48 majority, are using a special budgetary procedure that allows them to pass legislation with a simple majority â€” and the vote of the vice president in the event of a tie â€” rather than the usual 60 votes. But that maneuver will expire at the end of the month.Â
The Graham-Cassidy legislation would get rid of the mandate that individuals have to buy insurance as well as the penaltyÂ for large employers that donâ€™t offer reasonably priced insurance to their employees. But for the most part, the Obamacare taxes would stay in place and be redistributed to states in the form of block grants.
The bill would also end the Medicaid expansion that 31 states and Washington D.C. took advantage of under Obamacare and overhaul the funding for traditional Medicaid.Â
â€œI would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” McCain said.Â
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York applauded McCain’s decision. “John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator. I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., had been leading an effort to draft a bipartisan bill to shore up Obamacare insurance markets; Alexander pulled the plug on that effort Tuesday to clear the way for the Graham-Cassidy bill. Following McCain’s announcement Murray, who is the top Democrat on the committee,Â saidÂ she was ready to get back to bipartisan negotiations.
McCain was the deciding vote in July, his “no” vote scuttlingÂ a narrow Obamacare repeal bill that McConnell had offered. McCain’s chief complaint has been that the Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare did not go through normal hearings, debate and amendment process that the Senate calls for. While there is one hearing scheduled next week in the Senate Finance Committee to discuss Graham-Cassidy, as of midday Friday there were no witnesses listed on the committee website.Â
“My friendship with @SenJohnMcCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how heâ€™s lived his life and the person he is,” Graham said Friday afternoon. McCain and Graham are known as some of the closest lawmakers in the Senate. â€œI respectfully disagree with his position not to proceed forward on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson.”Â
Graham said he’s “completely convinced” that giving money back to the states is the correct way to address health care and vowed to “press on.”
Despite public pressure from President Trump, Paul has vigorously opposed the Graham-CassidyÂ billÂ because he feels it does not do enough to repeal Obamacare.
â€œRand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare,'”Â Trump tweeted Friday morning.
Paul fired back: â€œCalling a bill that KEEPS most of Obamacare ‘repeal’Â doesn’t make it true. That’s what the swamp does. I won’t be bribed or bullied.â€Â
Earlier this week, Collins told ABC NewsÂ she wasÂ â€œleaning noâ€ on the health care bill.
â€œI have a lot of concerns and I think itâ€™s really important that we get this right,â€ Collins told ABC last week. She said Congress should be working on a bipartisan set ofÂ reforms â€œnot rushing through a major bill that completely rewrites our health care laws with so little deliberation and so little information.â€Â
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined McCain and Collins in voting against the last repeal attempt in July. She has not indicated which way she plans to vote, but her state’s independent governor has come out against the bill.Â
More: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the key vote on the Obamacare repeal, and everyone wants her on their side
Friday afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a memo calling to Democrats callingÂ for “all hands on deck.” Pelosi said that in light of McCain announcing his opposition Democrats needed to “highlight the devastating costs Republicans are trying to inflict on hard-working Americans.”Â
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whetherÂ McCain’s announcement has changed the plan to hold a vote next week.Â
Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a major campaign promise for President Trump and for Republicans running for Congress in the past several campaigns.
Trump has blasted his party’s congressional leaders for failing to deliver on that promise, and itÂ will undoubtedly become a big issue in theÂ 2018 congressional races as Republicans fight to keep their majorities in both the House and Senate.