The maverick is back.
Sen. John McCain, recently diagnosed with brain cancer, went rogue early Friday morning and voted against his party’s efforts to pass a so-called “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill. The bill was rejected in a vote that was 51-49.
The pared-down health care bill was introduced late Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the hopes of furthering Republicans dreams of dismantling the Affordable Care Act one piece at a time.
McConnell described the loss as “a disappointing moment,” and said “it is time to move on.” The Senate Majority Leader suggested he may even be open to working with Democrats.
“Now I think it’s appropriate to ask what are their ideas? It’ll be interesting to see what they suggest as the way forward,” McConnell said. “We’ll see how the American people feel about their ideas.”
Shortly after the vote, President Trump took to Twitter to respond to Friday morning’s result.
“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!,” Trump tweeted.
Rather than fully repealing or replacing Obamacare, the skinny bill would have shrunk some of its features but left much of former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation intact.
The bill would have defunded Planned Parenthood for a year, permanently eliminated the individual insurance mandate and repealed the employer mandate for eight years.
Senators appeared ready to pull an all-nighter as they milled about on the Senate floor and Vice President Pence huddling with McCain ahead of the vote around 1 a.m.
The dramatic marathon session leading up to the early morning vote capped a long day dubbed a “vote-a-rama” as lawmakers debated various amendments and other items.
“We’re in the twilight zone of legislating,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo).
The main bill, titled the Health Care Freedom Act, also sought to repeal the medical device tax for three years and increases contribution limits to Health Savings Accounts for three years.
The pared down bill would have resulted in 16 million additional people without insurance by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office score released late Thursday.
Premiums on individual plans “would increase by roughly 20% relative to current law in all years between 2018 and 2026,” the CBO said.
Bizarrely, the eight-page measure was not intended to become law, but instead would have led to a House-Senate conference committee to hammer out a fuller piece of legislation that could be passed and sent to President Trump.
“Go Republican Senators, Go! Get there after waiting for 7 years. Give America great healthcare!” Trump tweeted late Thursday as word of McConnell’s push crept through Washington.
Pence arrived at the Capitol shortly before 11:30 p.m. in case his vote was needed to break a tie.
But it never came to that.
McCain joined Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in voting against their party.
McCain returned to the Senate on Tuesday, urging his colleagues to work together and “trust each other” during his first floor speech since being diagnosed with brain cancer.
McCain voted to allow the debate to continue on the Republican efforts, but ultimately voted against the “skinny” bill early Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer applauded McCain and also called for a bipartisan solution.
“Let me say it’s been a long long road for both sides,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the vote. “Both sides will have to give. Blame hardly falls on one side or the other.”