Arizona Senator John McCain announced Friday that he will be voting against the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, likely barring its success. “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” Sen. McCain stated. “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 would cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
Republicans need at least 50 votes to pass their last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which is why McCain’s decision has been so highly anticipated. With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) already expressing their opposition to the bill, Republicans could not afford to lose any more of their own party’s support. Many predicted McCain would oppose the bill because of his “no” vote in July that killed a previous ACA repeal attempt, while others expected his close relationship with one of the bill’s key sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would sway him to support the bill.
“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” McCain stated. “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.”
“My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is,” Graham tweeted Friday afternoon.
My friendship with @SenJohnMcCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 22, 2017
Arizona is one of many states that would receive less government money under the Graham-Cassidy bill than under the Affordable Care Act — likely a factor deterring McCain’s support. McCain has also previously explained that he would not support any health care legislation that has not gone through “regular order”; entailing Senate hearings, an amendment process and floor debate.
Following McCain’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised his decision, saying “John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator. I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”
President Donald Trump responded to McCain’s decision at a rally in Alabama on Friday, saying McCain’s choice to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill is “honestly terrible.” Trump also stated he believes Sen. Rand Paul “may come around” and support the bill, despite Paul’s steadfast stance on the issue.