Around 1:45 a.m. in Washington, Senator John McCain of Arizona delivered the death blow to the Republican’s latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to cobble together a so-called “skinny repeal” before the Senate even opened for the day Thursday, with hopes of getting any measure through to a conference committee.
That’s when the house and senate meet to hammer out differences between similar bills.
McConnell’s bill involved repealing the ACA’s tax penalties for an individual not having insurance, or an employer not providing enough insurance.
It also banned federal funds for one year going to organizations that provide abortions.
The American Medical Association and one of the nation’s largest insurance industry groups predicted premiums would spike if the bill were enacted.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill would leave 16 million more people uninsured in a decade compared to leaving the ACA in place.
Senator McCain wanted assurances the house wouldn’t take up the skinny repeal as-is.
Though House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was open to negotiating something new in a conference committee, he apparently didn’t sell McCain.
The senator, who had just returned to Washington after a cancer operation, held out his hand as the roll-call came to his name.
Just before his name was called, McCain dropped his hand into a thumbs-down, and said, “No.”
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine also voted no, making the vote 49-51.
Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) said the vote was a “disappointment.”
But he also opened the door for bipartisanship to return to the Senate.
“It's time for our friends on the other side to tell us what they have in mind. And we'll see how the American people feel about their ideas,” McConnell said.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said it was time to turn the page.
“Obamacare was hardly perfect. It did a lot of good things but it needs improvement. And I hope one part of turning that page is that we go back to regular order, work in the committees together to improve Obamacare,” Schumer said.
President Donald Trump tweeted after the vote, “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then