Sponsored by

McCain: Can't vote 'in good conscience' for Graham-Cassidy repeal of Obamacare

U.S. Sen. John McCain announced Friday that he will not vote for the repeal of Obamacare being considered by the Senate, saying "too many lives are at risk" to back a bill "without knowing how much it will cost" and lacks bipartisan support.

The longtime GOP senator, who was diagnosed over the summer with a dangerous brain cancer, repeated his stance that "health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order," with committee hearings and amendments.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is being pushed toward a quick vote in the Senate, with almost no public debate by lawmakers.

"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," McCain said Friday. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect 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."

McCain's refusal to support the measure could doom yet another Republican attempt to repeal President Barack Obama's health care plan. With fellow GOP Sen. Rand Paul already a "no" vote, and Susan Collins "leaning against" the bill, the party's leadership has little room for error. They need 50 "yes" votes to set up a tie, which could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

The Republicans are up against a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a bill under "budget reconciliation" rules that permit them to limit hearings and debate. After that, a bill would have to follow the regular process, which would include more Democratic participation.

At the end of July, McCain joined two other Republican senators in voting no on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, dramatically pointing his thumb down on the Senate floor to doom that bill.

McCain voted no on the "skinny repeal" measure backed by Republican leadership, along with GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. They and all 48 Democrats in the Senate narrowly defeated the attempt to roll back Obamacare, tanking the move on a 49-51 vote.

Like what you're reading? Support high-quality local journalism and help underwrite independent news without the spin.

Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, has said he will vote in favor of the measure, as he did in July.

McCain's statement, released Friday by his office:

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.

I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.

We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.

Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare. But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.

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. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect 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.

I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it. The bill's authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.

I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.

- 30 -
have your say   

Comments

There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

Ben Moffat/Cronkite News

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, walks past reporters in the hallway outside his Washington office in July, just hours after his early-morning vote helped kill an attempt by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.