Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. – Abraham Lincoln
The country witnessed something incredible in the wee hours of the night. Three politicians bucked party allegiance and put the best interests of the country over their own by proudly voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME). Senator McCain stated after the vote that he believed his vote was, “…the right thing to do.” Senators Murkowski and Collins were displeased with the proposed cuts to Medicaid in the bill. Their opposition votes sunk the “skinny” repeal of the ACA and dealt a stiff blow to President Trump’s agenda, effectively ending Republican efforts over the last 8 years to overturn the bill that is President Obama’s crowning achievement. Watch Senator McCain’s game-changing vote here:
There was no lack of high drama surrounding the vote either. It became apparent that Republicans did not initially have the votes necessary for passage of the bill, as the vote was held open for over two hours as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican leadership attempted to twist arms and persuade their colleagues to vote to pass the bill. Also, in an unprecedented act, Vice-President Mike Pence took to the Senate floor in order to help secure votes for passage of the “skinny” repeal. At one point, he was spotted in a lengthy, intense conversation with Senator McCain until he abruptly walked away.
Senator McCain’s principled vote comes after he warned the Trump administration and his Republican colleagues earlier in the week that the most effective, responsible approach to healthcare reform would be bipartisan in nature with Republicans and Democrats working together for the betterment of the country. Watch Senator McCain return to the Senate to make these impassioned remarks here:
However, he voted to proceed with debate over the repeal of the ACA. Earlier yesterday, he did a press conference with several of his Republican colleagues and announced that he needed assurance from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan (R-WI), that the House would not pass the bill as-is if it were passed in the Senate. And though Speaker Ryan did indeed give Senator McCain those assurances during a brief conference call later in the day, mistrust between the two Congressional chambers appears to have helped fuel the Arizona senator’s opposition. In a statement released by Senator McCain’s office today, he said:
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.
His vote also comes after he was diagnosed with malignant glioblastoma, the most aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer. Though it remains unclear how Senator McCain’s diagnoses impacted his vote, it is almost impossible to comprehend a scenario in which he would be unable to empathize with the concerns and needs of millions of Americans uneasy about the future of the ACA. Regardless of his motives, Senator McCain once again demonstrated last night why he is a true American hero – and a maverick.
President Trump, on the other hand, refused to take any responsibility for this failure and his broken campaign promise to his voters to repeal the ACA. He released the following tweet shortly after the vote:
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
However, it is undeniable that the legislative defeat last night was a huge setback for a president who is desperate for (and in need of) a legislative victory. Majority Leader McConnell took to the Senate floor after losing the vote to express his disappointment, accept defeat, and announce that it was time to move on, which likely relieved vulnerable Republicans, like Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who face tough re-election battles next year. Watch Majority Leader McConnell’s remarks here:
Though it remains unclear what the next move is for Republicans, the ACA is here to stay. Now it is time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to expand coverage, lower premiums, and control costs.
Written By: Brett Zografos (@BrettZografos)