McCain won't 'in good conscience' vote for Graham-Cassidy bill

By Danielle Haynes  |  Sept. 22, 2017 at 2:42 PM
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Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced on Friday that he "cannot in good conscience" vote for Republicans' latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, leaving the future of the Graham-Cassidy proposal in doubt.

McCain became the second Republican to say he plans to vote against the measure introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voiced his opposition Monday in an opinion column he wrote for Fox News.

But the two men have very different reasons for their "no" votes. While Paul wants to abolish President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law entirely, McCain called for healthcare reform with committee input as part of "regular order in the Senate."

"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 wrote in a news release announcing his decision.

He lauded Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., for attempting to come to an agreement on a bill to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Their attempts were scrapped earlier this week when House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House came out against attempts to fix Obamacare.

"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," McCain said.

This isn't the first time McCain has broken ranks with his party to vote against repeal and/or replace efforts. On July 26, he voted against a straight repeal of the ACA along with fellow Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Two days later, Collins, McCain and Murkowski also voted against the so-called "skinny repeal" of the ACA.

"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 [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions," McCain said.

Collins has not made an official announcement on her vote on Graham-Cassidy, but Friday she told the Press Herald in Portland, Maine, that she was leaning no.

"I'm just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine," she said.

It's unclear where Murkowski stands on the bill. Karina Petersen, a spokeswoman for the senator, told The Hill she was still vetting the bill and studying data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Hill reported that Graham told a group of conservative activists last week that special concessions for Alaska would have to be included in the bill in order to win Murkowski's vote.

Republicans are wanting to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill using the budgetary process of reconciliation, the deadline for which is Sept. 30. If three Republicans vote against the bill, it will not pass. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would bring the legislation to the floor for a vote only if it has the support of at least 50 senators.

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