Arizona Sen. John McCain said Friday that given the truncated timeline, he cannot vote for the health care repeal proposal floated by fellow Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana next week.
“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 affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it,” McCain said. “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’s announced opposition makes it unlikely, if not impossible, that Republicans will be able to muster the 50 votes needed to get a bill through the Senate. McCain was the deciding vote that doomed the previous effort.
And with Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine also considered opposed to the proposal it appears unlikely Republicans will reach the 50 votes needed to pass it with Vice President Mike Pence’s vote.
Graham has been McCain’s closest friend in the Senate, and there was some question as to whether the South Carolina senator could get his colleague from Arizona on board. Graham said he respected McCain’s decision, although he disagreed with it.
“My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is,” Graham said in a statement. “Obamacare is collapsing in Arizona, South Carolina, and across the nation — driving up premiums and reducing choices. I feel an obligation to fix this disaster and intend to push forward for state-centric health care versus Washington-knows-best health care.”
The fast-track budget procedure known as reconciliation that Republicans were using to advance the bill expires on Sept. 30, forcing the GOP to try to ram through a list-minute bill that several Senate aides said there was still significant confusion over.