The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, defeating a GOP “skinny repeal” bill early Friday morning.
Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to oppose the measure. McCain, who had voted for a motion to proceed to the bill Monday after returning to Washington following surgery for a brain tumor, held out all day, including in a press conference where he criticized the partisan process that led to the after-midnight vote.
His surprise no vote came after a prolonged drama on the Senate floor. Multiple Republican colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence, engaged in animated conversations with the Arizona senator who has long cherished his reputation as a maverick.
Speaking after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looked stunned and lamented the vote and the inability of the GOP to fulfill their long-term campaign pledge.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell said. “Our constituents have suffered through an awful lot under 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. We told our constituents we would vote that way. And when the moment came, when the moment came, most of us did.”
“It’s time to move on,” he said, moving the Senate on to the defense authorization bill.
Shortly before 10 p.m. ET, Republican leaders finally unveiled legislation that had been closely guarded from the public — as well as their own colleagues — for days.
Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Ron Johnson did not like the bill. They wanted assurances that the “skinny bill” would not make it to the Trump’s desk for signing, but would instead go to committee to resolve differences between the House bill and the Senate Bill.
“I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and politics just to get something done,” Graham said at a press conference. Joined by McCain, Johnson and Bill Cassidy, Graham said he has grown increasingly concerned that contrary to GOP leaders’ assurances, the bill that the Senate passes would be immediately taken up by the House — rather than going to a House-Senate conference for further negotiations — and end up on Trump’s desk.
Graham and Johnson said they had received the reassurances they needed and would vote yes. McCain did not trust House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Ryan responded that the House would be willing to go to a conference committee but his carefully crafted statement did not include a specific guarantee that the House would not vote on the Senate’s proposal. It appeared aimed at moving the process forward while protecting House Republicans from being blamed if should the entire process collapses.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ryan’s statement was insufficient. “That is not worth anything,” Schumer, D-New York, said on the Senate floor. “They want to pass this bill, skinny repeal, and send it to the President.”
As I said from the beginning …
Excuse me, which beginning is that?
New Definition of Always
The new definition of “always” is 9 hours and 41 Minutes.
Now, what is the definition of beginning?
I just happen to have a musical tribute to beginnings.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock