Senator John McCain brought down the latest Republican health-care plan early Friday morning.
In a moment of high drama on the Senate floor, the Arizona senator, stricken with brain cancer and railing against his party’s secretive legislative maneuvering, provided the decisive vote against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act. The amendment fell, 51-49, thwarting once again the GOP’s longstanding efforts to deliver on a central campaign promise. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted against the bill, continuing their opposition to the GOP’s partisan repeal effort. But it was McCain who surprised the Senate, breaking with his party after earlier helping it on a key procedural vote.
Had it succeeded, the amendment would have cleared the way for passage of legislation that would set up negotiations with the House on a final bill to send to President Trump’s desk. With its failure, Republicans are once again stuck searching for a plan that can unite the party’s narrow majority in the Senate and staring at the possibility of having to work with Democrats to modify rather than roll back the health law.
Immediately after his amendment went down, a distraught McConnell scrapped further votes on the bill and said it was “time to move on” from the GOP’s repeal effort. “This is clearly a disappointing moment,” the majority leader said. “Yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment indeed.” McConnell offered no way forward for the party, instead turning to Democrats and suggesting it was time they offered their ideas for fixing the current law. President Trump, meanwhile, suggested on Twitter he would “let Obamacare implode” before seeking a bipartisan deal. “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down,” he wrote. “As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”