The “maverick” is back.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shocked his conservative colleagues early Friday morning by defying President Trump to cast the decisive vote against the Republican Party’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Two other Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — had already voted “no” on the “skinny repeal” amendment when it came time for the former presidential candidate to announce his decision. With Democrats firmly opposed, the GOP could afford only two Republican defections to gut Obamacare.
When McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, walked onto the Senate floor about 1:30 a.m. and voted “no” with a thumbs-down, the shock was palpable. Republican senators gasped while scattered applause came from Democrats.
This moment in the early morning hours effectively killed the replacement plan, known as the Health Care Freedom Act. It ended with a 49-51 vote.
McCain, 80, had returned to Washington from Arizona for the vote earlier this week with a visible scar above his eye from brain surgery. Trump welcomed him back.
So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Unknown to Trump — or, apparently, most of his Republican colleagues — McCain would tank the bill. As he entered the Senate chamber before the vote, McCain told journalists to “watch the show.” Afterward, he was quoted by reporters as saying he “thought it was the right thing to do.”
McCain leaving the Capitol asked why he voted NO: “I thought it was the right thing to do.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 28, 2017
Even as the Senate voted, the New York Times was running an op-ed by columnist Paul Krugman titled “The Sanctimony and Sin of G.O.P. ‘Moderates,’” calling attention to “the awfulness of Senator John McCain,” who had cast the decisive vote to begin…