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McCain explains his dramatic vote against the GOP’s last-ditch Obamacare repeal idea

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Late Thursday night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in voting against the Republican Party’s last-ditch attempt to pass Obamacare repeal in the Senate — a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, which would have repealed the individual mandate but left the Medicaid expansion in place.

Nearly 12 hours after his vote, McCain has released a statement on his decision in which he slammed the “skinny repeal” bill: “While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.”

McCain returned to Washington specifically to vote on health care reform after being diagnosed with brain cancer, following a surgery to remove a blood clot from above his eye. When he returned to the Senate on Tuesday, he gave a stirring speech, saying:

“We Republicans have looked for a way to end [Obamacare] and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven't found it yet, and I'm not sure we will.”

Over the next two days, McCain voted yes on the motion to proceed on Tuesday, and yes to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) — the repeal-and-replace option — but then voted against the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), a straight repeal with a two-year delay to craft a replacement.

Then late Thursday night, as he entered the chamber to vote, he hinted to reporters that the night would have some drama in store. “Watch the show,” he told them. Shortly thereafter, he became the third Republican to vote no against the “skinny repeal,” dramatically giving the bill a thumbs down.

After leaving the chamber, reporters asked McCain why he voted no, to which he answered, “Because it was the right vote.”

Later that night, he tweeted:

A statement from McCain on his decision has been eagerly anticipated.

The full statement can be read here and below:

From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker's statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.

I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace. We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.

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