A Look Inside the Senate’s Late Night

The Capitol was brimming with tension as Republicans tried to rally support in their latest attempt to repeal Obamacare.

CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

The only certainty for senators on Thursday as they headed toward a showdown vote on a health care overhaul was that it would be a late night.

Indeed, not until 2 a.m. Friday did the Senate finally stand down, after three Republicans voted against the so-called skinny repeal to reject their party’s push — and a yearslong promise — to scuttle former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

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Early in the evening, a group of Republican senators — including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, below right, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, below left — told a news conference that they would not support the “skinny repeal” bill. Mr. Graham called the stripped-down proposal a “disaster” and a “fraud” as a replacement for the current law.

Had it succeeded, the bill would have merely served as a vehicle for future negotiations with the House: It was not considered viable on its own.

CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

As senators prepared for grueling hours of debate and votes, their aides hustled to arm them with props and snacks. Below, an aide to Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip, carried a poster toward the Senate chamber.

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The hustle and bustle in the Capitol’s hallways faded into stillness as the hours dragged by. Aides, glued to their cellphones as they waited for instructions, paced or sat; others hauled in boxes of pizza.

CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Television crews bird-dogged passing senators with questions and quips. One monitor showed an image of the White House, where President Trump tweeted a message of support. “Go Republican Senators, Go! Get there after…

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