The Last Maverick – Senator McCain Spurs Trump and GOP Leaders to Make Personal Stand

“At this point, McCain can vote by his conscious and fret less over the political ramifications.”

Senator John McCain stunned Washington when he voted “no” on an Obamacare repeal without replace bill. McCain joined two other GOP Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to shut down efforts to repeal Obamacare. Collins and Murkowski have long stood against GOP health care reform efforts, staunchly opposing earlier efforts. Their “no” votes came as little surprise. McCain’s surprise vote, however, sent shock waves through the capital.

President Trump got on the phone and tried to convince McCain to support the bill. He wouldn’t budge. Vice President Pence went to Congress and pitched McCain personally for twenty minutes. Still, McCain wouldn’t budge. House Speaker Paul Ryan tried his own hand, as did Senate leader Mitch McConnell. No luck, and McCain’s no stayed a no.

Following the defeat, McConnell immediately tried to shift the blame to Democrats. While I try to avoid partisan debates, that claim is utter hogwash. Everyone, everywhere knew that Democrats weren’t going to support efforts to repeal Obamacare, and any efforts to change the system would need to improve it, not weaken it. Further, the GOP intentionally excluded Democrats from any and all negotiations. Ultimately, however, McConnell had enough potential Republican votes to pass health care without any support from Democrats. However, he failed to corral those GOP votes.

As for McCain, the Senator has been under intense scrutiny these past several days. Many critics, including a large number of Democrats, blasted McCain for returning to Washington D.C. to vote to open up debates on health care repeal. McCain had been in Arizona, where he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from behind his eye. Without his vote, negotiations couldn’t even start.

Immediately after McCain’s original vote to allow helath care to even be discussed, critics were lambasting him as a hypocrite. Critics asked how could McCain enjoy his own taxpayer funded health care while also moving to strip access to care for millions of Americans? Some even claimed that McCain’s health condition meant he was no longer fit for office. Unsurprisingly, many of those critics have quickly been changing their tune.

While McCain may have bought some love from moderates and Democrats, he’ll likely come under fire from Republicans. McCain may emerge as the poster-boy for the bill’s defeat, and might quickly find himself isolated within the Capital. Given his age and health, there’s a very good chance that McCain will not run again for office in 2020. Indeed, at this point McCain might not even finish out his term. At this point, McCain can vote by his conscious and fret less over the political ramifications.

Speaking of conscious, McCain released a statement in which he urged Obamacare to be repealed and replaced with an alternative system that “increases competition, lowers costs and improves care for the American people.” McCain claimed, however, that the current GOP repeal and replace efforts would not accomplish that. With the CBO suggesting that repealing without replacing could cause premium to jump by as much as 20% next year, McCain might be right.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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