Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Health Care Vote Fails on Senate Floor

Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were dealt a stunning blow last week as several options to reform the health care system failed to garner the votes necessary for passage. Senator John McCain (Ariz.) joined with Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and all Democrats to defeat the so-called “skinny repeal” early Friday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought several options to the Senate floor with the hopes that one could gain enough votes to pass the chamber and potentially set up a conference with the House. Ultimately, neither the Better Care Reconciliation Act, past attempts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, nor the more recent Health Care Freedom Act, also known as skinny repeal, could find the votes.

McCain was at the center of deliberations from the beginning. The Senator announced he was diagnosed with brain cancer after emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from above his eye. The surgery and the diagnosis grounded McCain in Arizona, delaying the vote, after which Senator Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Mike Lee (Utah) announced opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, forcing McConnell to go back to the drawing board.

McCain then made an unscheduled trip back to Washington in order to open up debate on health care legislation, a move that made many assume McConnell may have had enough support to pass a repeal and replace plan. Republicans could only afford to lose one vote on the motion, as Collins and Murkowski were firmly against any stated Republican options. McCain gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor urging the body to return to regular order, but voted for the motion to proceed to the bill.

While McCain voted for previous iterations of repeal and replace efforts over the course of debate on the bill, defections among other Republicans meant that no single plan gained enough support to pass.

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