Promise Broken: Sens. McCain, Murkowski, and Collins Tank Obamacare Repeal Bill

Murkowski and McCain

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Health Care Freedom Act, known as the “skinny repeal” bill, failed to pass through the Senate.

The Health Care Freedom Act failed 49-51. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against the bill. Sens. McCain and Murkowski pledged repeatedly to repeal Obamacare, whereas Sen. Collins consistently voted against any Obamacare repeal proposed by the Senate.

Not only have these Sens. McCain and Murkowski voted to repeal Obamacare, they publicly pledged to do so on the campaign trail and in the halls of the Senate. Here are two instances when these senators promised to repeal Obamacare:

  • Lisa Murkowski, “This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”
  • John McCain, “It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.”

The Health Care Freedom Act would have repealed Obamacare’s individual and employer mandate, provided states flexibility on Obamacare insurance regulations through waivers, increased Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits, repealed Obamacare’s medical device tax, and defunded Planned Parenthood for one year.

The Senate healthcare reform process already traversed a rocky path. The Senate’s motion to start debating healthcare legislation barely passed through the upper chamber at 51-50. Vice President Mike Pence had to break the tie after Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against starting the debate in Congress.

The Senate leadership failed to pass its healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), and Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) clean repeal bill failed in the Senate after moderate Republicans shot down the legislation.

Vice President Mike Pence arrived shortly before the Senate voted on the Health Care Freedom Act.

Vice President Mike Pence was present at the Senate for the vote.

The Senate shot down Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) motion to recommit the bill to the Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) committee, where Democrats argue that they can negotiate a bipartisan deal on health care with Republicans.

The Senate failed to pass the Health Care Freedom Act. Senate Republicans needed at least 50 votes and Vice President Mike Pence to pass the bill through the upper chamber.

Congressional leaders sought to send the Health Care Freedom Act to the House and the Senate, where both chambers could compromise on a unified bill through a conference committee. After which, both houses would have to pass the unified bill and then send the bill to President Donald Trump to sign.

President Donald Trump cheered on the Senate Republicans before the vote, urging them to finally pass a health care reform bill after seven years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the Senate Friday morning. McConnell regretfully said:

Mr. President this is clearly a disappointing moment. From skyrocketing costs, to plummeting choices, and collapsing markets, our constituents have suffered an awful lot under Obamacare. We thought they deserved better, it’s why I and many of my colleagues did as we promised and voted to repeal this failed law. We told our constituents we would vote that way, but when the moment came most of us did. We kept our commitments, we worked hard, and everyone on this side can attest to the fact that we worked really hard. We tried to develop a consensus for a way forward and I want to thank everyone in our conference for the endless amount of time that they spent trying to achieve a consensus to go forward. I also want to thank the President and the Vice President, both of them could not have been more involved and more helpful. So yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment indeed.

McConnell then challenged the Democrats to come up with a solution to the nation’s health care crisis brought on by Obamacare. McConnell asked, “Now I think it is appropriate to ask what are their ideas?”

“Now it’s time for the other side to put their ideas forward and we’ll see how the American people feel about their ideas,” the Majority Leader added.

McConnell concluded, “My only regret, our only regret tonight, that we didn’t achieve what we had hoped to accomplish. I think the American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”


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