I stayed up last night as long as I could to get you the Last Call on Trumpcare's final fate in the Senate but I kinda conked out around midnight. I knew that Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski were no votes, and once again Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain was uttering platitudes that suggested he would vote no if his action ever matched his lofty rhetoric, which it most certainly did not do earlier this week when McCain voted to advance debate on legislation killing the ACA despite his vocal misgivings about the Senate repeal plan.
You can imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up and found that John McCain was the deciding vote again...this time as the 51st vote to save Obamacare and kill the GOP's plan to repeal it.
A months-long effort by Senate Republicans to pass health legislation collapsed early Friday after GOP Senator John McCain joined two of his colleagues to block a stripped-down Obamacare repeal bill.
“I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, this time,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor after the vote. “This is clearly a disappointing moment.”
“It’s time to move on,” he added after pulling the bill from the floor.
The decision by McCain to vote no came after weeks of brinkmanship and after his dramatic return from cancer treatment to cast the 50th vote to start debate on the bill earlier this week. The GOP’s ‘skinny’ repeal bill was defeated 49-51, falling just short of the 50 votes needed to advance it. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski also voted against it.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the next steps would be for the Republicans. The repeal effort had appeared to collapse several times before, only to be revived. And several Republicans pleaded for their colleagues not to give up, even as President Donald Trump blasted the vote.
“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down, As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” he wrote on Twitter at 2:25 am Washington time.
But McConnell has struggled to find a compromise that satisfies conservatives, who have demanded a wholesale repeal of Obamacare, and moderates, who have been unnerved by predictions the bill would significantly boost the ranks of uninsured Americans.
Democrats immediately called for a bipartisan debate on how to fix Obamacare.
“We are not celebrating. We’re relieved,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “Let’s turn the page and work together to improve our health care system.” He also said Democrats would be willing to help expedite bipartisan legislation and to advance Trump administration nominations.
So for now, millions of Americans can breathe a sign of relief as their health care is spared...for now. The next battles include raising the debt ceiling and of course the House GOP Austerity Budget which will cut well more than a trillion dollars in spending, including hundreds of billions in Medicaid cuts.
But Republicans will need 60 Senate votes to pass those efforts. Where things go from here is unknown but I do know Democrats will have much more leverage than they do now.
In the end, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, the 48 Democrats in the Senate, the millions up us who marched and called over the last several months, they deserve credit. They made McCain do the right thing in the end. They deserve the plaudits and accolades. Remember that.