WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John McCain declared his opposition Friday to the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” dealing a likely death blow to the legislation and, perhaps, to the Republican Party’s years of vows to kill the program. It was the second time in three months the 81-year-old McCain emerged as the destroyer of his party’s signature promise to voters.
“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said of the bill, co-written by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
McCain, who is battling brain cancer in the twilight of a remarkable career, said he could not “in good conscience” vote for the legislation. That all but ensured a major setback for President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and appeared likely to deepen rifts between congressional Republicans and a president who has begun making deals with Democrats out of frustration with his own party’s failure to turn proposals into laws.
During the election campaign Trump had pledged to quickly kill President Barack Obama’s health care program — “It will be easy,” he contended — and he has publicly chided McConnell for not winning passage before now.
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With the Arizona senator’s defection, there are now two declared GOP “no” votes on the repeal legislation, the other being Rand Paul of Kentucky. With Democrats unanimously opposed, that’s the exact number McConnell can afford to lose. But Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins said Friday she, too, is leaning against the bill, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was also a possible “no,” making it highly unlikely that McConnell can prevail.
So once again, the GOP seems destined to fail on a campaign promise that every Republican agreed on — right up until the party obtained full control of Congress and the White House this year and was actually in position to follow through.
Trump, speaking at a political rally Friday night in Alabama, called McCain’s opposition “sad” and “a horrible, horrible thing” for the Republican Party. But he said he would continue the fight to repeal…