Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made a not-so-surprising announcement on Friday.
The Arizona senator stated that he would not vote for the Republicans latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His opposition will make it much harder for Republican lawmakers to fulfill the promise they made to their constituents, according to Fox News Research.
On Friday, Senator McCain released a statement saying that he could not “in good conscience” vote for the Graham Cassidy Bill, which is named after Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). He cited the lack of bipartisanship as one of his reasons for opposing the bill, stating,
“As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.”
McCain also indicated that Republicans and Democrats have not attempted to work together on creating viable healthcare legislation. “I cannot, in good conscience, vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”
Now that McCain has announced his intention to vote against the proposal, the chances of seeing any health care legislation passed in the near future seem dim. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have implied that they may also vote against the bill.
The New York Times reported that Senator Paul would refuse to support the bill because it did not repeal enough of the Affordable Care Act. He has repeatedly argued that a bill that leaves most of the Obamacare legislation in place would not be a sufficient solution.
It is critical that Republicans pass this legislation now, because they have until the end of the month to take advantage of special budget rules that would enable them to pass a repeal bill with a simple majority, rather than the traditional 60 votes. The Republicans would need to get at least 50 votes, and Vice President Mike Pence would be able to cast the tie-breaking vote.
McCain and the other Senators who have stymied the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obamacare have been met with criticism from their party. Their critics have repeatedly lamented their refusal to pass the legislation for which they were elected. Many believe that if Republicans do not repeal Obamacare, they risk losing their seats in Congress.
Obamacare has been a contentious issue since the Democrats rammed it through the legislative process in 2010 — without any input from Republicans. McCain’s argument that the bill should not pass because it is not a bipartisan bill is antiquated — while this may have been how Congress passed laws in the past, we are living in a new time.
Senator McCain’s approach is misguided because the Democrats have already made it clear that they are not interested in bipartisanship. They showed this in 2010 when they passed the Affordable Care Act.
Right now, Republicans would be wise to aggressively pursue their agenda while they are still in control. It will be the only way to make a lasting impact when it comes to promoting conservative policies. Unfortunately, Senators like John McCain do not seem to understand this. Hopefully, their reticence to fulfill their promises won’t prevent effective legislation going forward.