WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) said that he will vote against the most recent Republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, and called for both parties to work together on healthcare legislation.
His decision to oppose legislation sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is a blow GOP hopes to repeal the Affordable Care Act before a Sept. 30 deadline.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.”
Jimmy Kimmel, who has been urging viewers to put pressure on lawmakers to oppose the legislation, thanked McCain shortly after his announcement.
“Thank you Senator John McCain for being a hero again and again and now AGAIN.”
McCain was the surprise vote against a previous GOP plan to repeal Obamacare in July, when he cast a no vote in an early morning Senate roll call. Two other Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also cast no votes, leaving the party short.
This time around, Collins and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have been critical of the Graham-Cassidy legislation, and Murkowski has yet to announce how she would vote. That would again leave Republicans with not enough votes to pass the bill, as Democrats are likely to stay unified in opposition.
“I 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,” McCain said in his statement. “But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.”
Under Senate budget rules, Republicans only have until Sept. 30 to pass a repeal bill with a simple majority.
But McCain cited efforts by two other senators — Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — to come up with a bipartisan healthcare proposal.
“Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare,” McCain said. “But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.”
McCain’s opposition raises doubts that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will even bring the bill to the floor, as he has indicated that would only do so if it can be shown that he has 50 votes.
Graham, one of McCain’s close friends, said on Twitter that their friendship “is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.”
He said that he “respectfully” disagrees with McCain’s position. Graham again made the case for his legislation, and said that he feels “an obligation to fix this disaster” and that he intends “to push forward for state-centric health care vs Washington-knows-best health care.”