The US Senate rejected a scaled-down ObamaCare repeal bill on Friday, falling three votes short in a surprising major defeat for GOP leaders.
The Senate voted down the so-called “skinny” repeal that would have rolled back ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates and defunded Planned Parenthood.
The bill was a last ditch effort by Republicans to argue that they kept their promises, and forge a bill that could begin negotiations with the House.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) surprised many observers by joining Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to cast three votes that killed the ObamaCare repeal bill early Friday morning.
Voting shortly after midnight, McCain — who returned to the Senate on Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery related to brain cancer — ended the GOP’s hopes of eliminating the former president’s signature law.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called the skinny repeal bill a “disaster” and a “fraud,” yet he still voted for the legislation.
McCain cast the “no” vote two days after a dramatic return to the Senate floor during which he called on his colleagues to work together on major issues such as health care reform, which has long been a Senate tradition until the upsurge of partisanship in recent years.
“From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people,” said McCain. “The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals.”
“While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens,” said McCain. “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.”
“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote,” said McCain. “We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace.”
“We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people,” said McCain. “We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
It is unclear what they will do now, or whether Americans will recognize that the GOP repeal effort was always a political ploy. After complaining about Obamacare for seven years, Republicans failed to offer any legislation that would not make things dramatically worse for millions of people.
President Donald Trump weighed in on the failure of the Senate Republican healthcare bill by making demands on Twitter.
“The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes,” Trump tweeted. “Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!”
Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the Senate, were using a process that would have required only 50 votes to pass the bill, since Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie. Despite this maneuver, they still could not get the bill through.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to get his caucus united around an Obamacare repeal plan and he got little help from the Republican president who promised voters it would be easy to get fantastic health care at a fraction of the cost.
Other than a huge tax cut for the wealthy, though, Republicans never agreed on what a replacement would do to lower medical expenses, expand coverage or improve health among Americans.
Meanwhile, Democrats across the country are lining up in support of legislation that would allow all Americans to enroll in Medicare, the single payer health insurance system created in 1965 to serve all citizens over age 65.
Medicare is extremely popular and successful because it is economically sound and it provides comprehensive care for all insured rather than being dedicated to profit.
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