Around 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning, in a surprising vote, Senator John McCain walked to the dais of the Senate and uttered one word, “No.” There were gasps on the Senate floor as Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had already voted against the skinny repeal bill that had appeared to be gaining traction with GOP Senators. The plan was not to pass that particular bill as law, but to find the lowest common denominator that could be agreed upon and continue to work with the House GOP in conference to find something that could replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Four Republican Senators, including McCain, held a news conference earlier in the day and stated that they would only vote for the skinny repeal if they were assured by the House GOP leadership that the bill would go to conference and not be voted on as is. There were conversations with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan throughout the evening but apparently that wasn’t enough for Senator McCain.
In an emotional address on the Senate floor around 1:45 a.m., Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his disappointment and challenged the Senate Democrats to share their ideas for improving the flaws of the ACA.
What comes next is a mystery. Very soon the House will depart for the long August recess and the Senate will follow in a week or two. The plan was to come back and move on to tax reform, but lawmakers will continue to be under pressure to address the challenges the ACA is facing across the country.
As always, we will keep you posted with all the changes moving forward.