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John McCain announces opposition to GOP health care bill, likely dooming it

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

Senate Armed Services chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing on 'Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea', Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Senate Armed Services chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing on 'Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea', Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Arizona Sen. John McCain announced he would not vote for the latest GOP health care bill aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it,” McCain said in the statement.

McCain’s statement, along with other statements from fellow Republicans Rand Paul and Susan Collins, seems to indicate that the bill, commonly referred to as the Graham-Cassidy Bill, will not pass the Senate.

Republicans, with 52 members in the Senate, can only afford to lose two votes for the bill before dipping below the needed majority.

Paul has long been opposed to the bill, which he says does not go far enough in rolling back the ACA. Collins said she was “leaning against” the bill on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

McCain’s opposition also marks a sharp split from one of his closest friends in the Senate, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, who helped author the bill. On Tuesday, Graham predicted that the bill would pass with 50 votes, according to The Hill.

Last week, McCain told reporters that he was still making up his mind: “I always do whatever Lindsey Graham tells me to do,” per the New York Times.

McCain was also one of three Republicans who crossed party lines to vote against a previous repeal effort in July.

The Graham-Cassidy bill had the vocal support of President Donald Trump, who used Twitter to call it a “great bill” and added that any Republican who votes against it “will be known as the ‘Republican who saved Obamacare.’”

GOP leaders had hoped to bring the bill to the floor next week. They face a Sept. 30 deadline for action on the legislation, at which point special rules that prevent a Democratic filibuster will expire.

Comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who has voiced strong opposition to the bill and emerged as a leading critic against it, thanked McCain in a tweet after he announced his decision.

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