After facing intense political pressure on Republican attempts to overhaul health care, two female GOP senators indicated that they had forged a bond in their defiance of both party and president.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, were on the front lines of the health care battle as the GOP attempted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Murkowski and Collins, who fought political pressure under a national spotlight, said they knew they had to prioritize their state over their party in a joint interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired Friday. Along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., they cast the decisive votes that halted the GOP effort.
“You want to vote to do the right thing,” Murkowski said. Collins, sitting next to her, echoed her sentiment, noting her obligation to vote for the people of Maine.
The White House pressured the senators to get back in line. Trump singled out Murkowski in particular the day after she and Collins opposed a procedural vote, saying that she “really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!”
Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
“I am voting for the people of Alaska,” Murkowski said she told the president. The senator also faced a call from Trump (“a very direct call,” she said), and one from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who reportedly threatened department projects in Alaska.
“I remember being so proud of you for saying directly to the president what your obligations were,” Collins said. “And that’s the way I feel too. The people of Maine don’t expect me to be a rubber stamp.”
The Maine Republican said she faced phone calls, meetings and a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence.
For both senators, protecting Planned Parenthood funding played a key role in their decisions. “To me, it was so unfair to single out the one Medicaid provider and say to women in particular you can’t choose which health care provider you want…