John McCain Fails To Act On His Words On Health Care Again

The senator demanded a better process, but he doesn't vote like it.

WASHINGTON ― Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday passed on yet another opportunity to involve both Republicans and Democrats in the legislative process by opposing a motion supporting bipartisan review, just a day after he decried the closed-door process Republicans have used to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

The Arizona senator voted against a motion proposed by Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) to commit the bill to the Senate Finance Committee, which would strike provisions from the legislation that would reduce or eliminate benefits or coverage for individuals who are currently eligible for Medicaid. 

McCain’s vote against the motion isn’t surprising. Democrats plan to offer numerous amendments this week in hopes of dividing Republicans as they work to pass something, anything, that would repeal Obamacare. The Donnelly motion, for example, is most likely designed to punish moderate Republicans by forcing them to cast tough votes on Medicaid spending.

Wednesday’s vote comes a day after McCain delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, where he implored his colleagues to work with one another and hold open committee hearings to craft legislation.

“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order,” he said in his Tuesday remarks that drew praise from across the aisle.

Moments before his speech, however, McCain cast the deciding vote to open debate on repealing Obamacare. Later Tuesday evening, the Arizona Republican cast another vote in support of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Obamacare repeal and replacement plan that Republicans had been working on in secret for months. Both the votes seemed to violate the principles he laid out in his speech as the legislation was a product of a closed-door process. Moreover, Senate Republicans held zero hearings on their bill.

The veteran senator also supports implementing changes to the bill’s impact on the Medicaid program, which Republicans included in their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

But if McCain does truly feel strongly about crafting legislation in a more open, bipartisan process, as he stated this week, he could have proved it on Wednesday by voting to send the GOP bill to the Senate Finance Committee anyway.

The only silver lining for Democrats may be the possibility that McCain follows through with his words on the final vote, which is expected later this week.

“[McCain’s] words are very powerful, but I think again, we’ll have a chance to see exactly whether [Republicans] act on those words or not,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday.