(CNSNews.com) – Gasps erupted in the Senate chamber early Friday morning when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cast the deciding “no” vote that killed the Republicans’ so-called “skinny repeal” bill – their final effort to lift some elements of Obamacare while leaving some of it in place.
McCain, recently diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer, returned to Washington this week so Republicans would have enough votes to open debate, and amend, the House-passed bill.
The “skinny” repeal amendment was the Republicans’ last best hope to get something passed, after "repeal-and-replace" and "straight-repeal" amendments failed. "Skinny repeal" was the final compromise.
The Senate rejected the latest Republican bill on a vote of 49-51. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been firm “no” votes all along, so that was no surprise.
McCain explained his deciding “no” vote in a statement on his website:
From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people.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While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health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.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, in an understatement, called it a "disappointing moment," and thanked the 49 Republicans who kept their promise to their constituents.
"I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time," McConnell said.
McConnell said it's time for Democrats to tell the American people what they would do to fix the health insurance system. "For myself, I can say -- and I think I'm pretty safe in saying for people on this side of the aisle -- that bailing out insurance companies, bailing our insurance companies with no thought of any kind of reform is not something I want to be part of. And I suspect that not many folks over here are interested in that."