Tuesday on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave a speech upon returning from Arizona after having an emergency craniotomy to remove a blood clot and a subsequent diagnosis of cancer.
McCain cast the deciding vote to begin the health care debate and chided both sides for not being bipartisan over the last several years, saying, “I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for this bill as it is today.”
McCain said, “I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other, to learn how to trust each other again, and by so doing, better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio, television and the internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.”
He continued, “Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We have been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. We’re getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done. And all we have really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our health care insurance system is a mess. We all know it. Those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done.
He added, “We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet. And I’m not sure we will. All we have managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it. I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now, we all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will need to be made before I support any bill. I know the bill has to change substantially before you will support it.”
He concluded, “We tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration and then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them that it’s better than nothing. That it’s better than nothing? Asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition? I don’t think that’s going to work in the end and probably shouldn’t. The administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress any national change as monumental as Obamacare, and we shouldn’t do the same with ours. Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate? The way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let’s return to regular order. Let the health and labor committee, under chairman Alexander, hold hearings, try to get a bill out of both committees with contributions from both sides.”
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