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Senate Fails To Pass Motion To Proceed On ‘Skinny Repeal’

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to garner the support needed to pass the motion to proceed on the watered-down version of the Obamacare repeal bill just after 1:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Three Republicans — Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine — opted to join the 48 Democrats in voting against the measure.

Its failure comes as a devastating blow to McConnell, who struggled for months to get members of his party to come to a consensus on replacement language. After months of negotiations, GOP lawmakers were unable to come to a consensus on key provisions, including how to handle cuts to Medicaid in expansion states and whether they should defund Planned Parenthood.

The “skinny repeal” — which was aimed at repealing the aspects of the Affordable Care Act that all factions of the conference agreed upon while leaving large portions in tact — was a last-ditch effort by leadership hoping to use the bill as a vehicle to conference with the lower chamber. Despite McConnell having long been lauded as a legislative wizard, his powers of persuasion fell short with the trio, all of whom have been vocal about their issues with the process and bill text.

It became evident around midnight as the vote continued to be delayed leadership was struggling to convince hesitant members to get on board. While an increasingly-frustrated looking McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn huddled on the floor, Vice President Mike Pence partook in a lengthy discussion with McCain on the chamber floor in an attempt to coax the Arizona Republican to vote for the measure.

Following its failure, an emotional McConnell expressed his disappointment on their failure to deliver on one of their top campaign promises.

“From skyrocketing costs to plummeting choices and collapsing markets, our constituents have suffered through an awful lot under Obamacare. We thought they deserved better,” he said in his remarks on the floor. “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. When the moment came, most of us did. We kept our commitments.”

McCain —  who flew in from Arizona after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer earlier this week — told reporters, “I thought it was the right vote,” while exiting the Capitol.

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said he was caught off guard by McCain’s decision, adding he’s open to a bipartisan approach in the future, but has found it difficult to get Democrats to work with them on health care.

“Obviously I thought he was going to vote yes — I’ve been working all evening to set up Graham-Cassidy amendment to go onto the conference report,” he told reporters. “We thought we had it in a good place, very good place, fantastic place — so I’m very disappointed.


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