Republican trio who defied party to vote no on health bill

The Republicans looked to have the votes to push through skinny repeal – but three senators upset the math to leave their party’s healthcare plans in tatters

Susan Collins of Maine has broken with the party on the environment, gun control and same-sex marriage. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

When the Republicans held on to their Senate majority on the night Donald Trump was elected president, things looked truly bad for Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. The general assumption was that, with control of both houses of Congress and the White House, the GOP would find a way to make good on seven years’ worth of campaign promises to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which expanded healthcare to nearly 20 million people.

But early Friday morning, three Republican senators – Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain – abandoned their party and upset the math. In joining Democrats to vote down a measure that threatened healthcare for millions, the trio resisted intense pressure from their party leadership and hard-knuckle tactics by the president.

Here’s a look at the three:

John McCain

It was just two days ago that John McCain returned to Washington to a hero’s welcome, applauded by both parties and by Trump himself. Less than a week earlier, the Arizona senator had been diagnosed with a glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer that in 2015 killed former vice-president Joe Biden’s son.

McCain spent 20 years in the US navy, and five years in a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam after his plane was shot down in 1967. He broke one leg and both arms, nearly starved in a filthy Vietnamese prison, and taught himself how to walk again.

Many of McCain’s former colleagues, and presidents from both sides of the aisle, have noted that record of service and called him a “fighter”. One peer, the former Michigan congressman John Dingell, called McCain “tough as $2 steak”, an unintentional harbinger of things to come.

“So great that John McCain is…

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