With Senator John McCain of Arizona joining with Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, Republicans were unable to pass the skinny repeal option.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have come to an end for now as the so-called "skinny repeal" bill was voted down with 3 Republicans breaking ranks. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have consistently voted against efforts this week to repeal the healthcare bill, were joined by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who flew back to Washington, DC, earlier this week after having surgery and being diagnosed with brain cancer.
The skinny repeal bill was a pared down version of past efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, and was thought to be the best chance of appeasing moderates and passing legislation in the Senate to get to a conference with the House of Representatives. The bill got rid of some provisions of the ACA, like the individual mandate and fines, but largely left the ACA intact. According to Fox News, several Republican senators had agreed to vote for the bill on the condition that the House would never pass it as is.
McCain's decision to vote against the bill came as a surprise. Earlier this week, just hours after voting for the motion to proceed, McCain had voted in favor of the Better Care Reconcialition Act, a piece of legislation that he said was imperfect and put together behind doors through a process he didn't condone. Before the vote, Vice President Mike Pence was on hand, ready to cast the tie-breaking vote if needed, but after speaking to him, McCain went over to the Democrats, reportedÂ The New York TimesÂ , which was a sign of things to come. Senator Claire McCaskill of (D-Missouri) also hinted on Twitter at what was about to happen.
There is now a glimmer of hope that we stop this and hopefully start over in a bipartisan way to stabilize ins markets and bring down costs.
– Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) July 28, 2017
After the vote, McCain released his own statement, explaining why he chose to vote against the bill. He said that while he still believes that the ACA needs to be replaced with a "solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care," the skinny bill was not the answer.
"While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality healthcare to our citizens," he said. "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."
McCain is not willing to end the debate on repeal and replace–he again called for bipartisan work to be done to find a solution.
"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 healthcare for the American people," he said. "We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
After the vote, President Donal Trump took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the outcome of the vote.
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017