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VOL. 41 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 28, 2017

McCain calls for a fresh start on health care

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senator John McCain is calling on the Senate to "start fresh" on health care after he cast the decisive vote killing the GOP's "Obamacare" repeal effort.

McCain says that "it is now time to return to regular order with input from all of our members — Republicans and Democrats."

In a statement Friday, McCain calls on lawmakers of both parties "to trust each other, stop the political gamesmanship, and put the health care needs of the American people first."

McCain says that the Senate's essential qualities of trust and bipartisanship have been missing in recent years as senators have succumbed to "partisan rancor and gridlock."

And he concludes: "We can do this."


11:45 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is praising the three Republicans who broke with their party to reject the GOP health care bill, especially John McCain.

Schumer told reporters at a news conference Friday, "I have not seen a senator who speaks truth to power as strongly, as well and as frequently as John McCain."

Schumer also praised Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski as tough women.

His comments came just hours after the three Republicans joined all 48 Senate Democrats in voting against the so-called "skinny repeal" bill, a loss that dealt a severe blow to President Donald Trump's agenda and GOP's years-long effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Schumer also said he spoke to Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday about working on bipartisan legislation.


11:40 a.m.

A spokesman for former President Barack Obama says that the Affordable Care Act "has always been about something bigger than politics."

In a statement, Kevin Lewis says that Obama "has always said we should build on this law, just as members of both parties worked together to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

Lewis says tens of millions of people have benefited from improvements under the law including free preventive care such as mammograms and vaccines.

And it remains that way, Lewis says, "because of everyone who mobilized, organized and made their voices heard."


11 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's "disappointed and frustrated" by the failure of health care legislation in the Senate.

But Ryan says "we should not give up" after promising for years to repeal and replace "Obamacare."

At the same time, the speaker says in a statement Friday that overhauling the tax code is at the top of the House's list of priorities.

Ryan is pledging to pursue "historic tax reform" in the fall.

He issued his statement as the House prepared to leave Washington for its annual August recess.

The House passed legislation repealing and replacing "Obamacare" in May. But after a failed vote early Friday in the Senate, it's not clear GOP leaders will be able to resuscitate the efforts.


10:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump says that if the Senate wants to pass legislation, it "must immediately go to a 51 vote majority," but his math is off.

His morning tweet is puzzling, since the Republican majority failed to even reach 51 votes to overhaul the nation's health care laws. Instead, they got 49 votes.

Typically, legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes or more to avoid a filibuster. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly rejected Trump's proposal to lower the threshold.

Trump has also complained that three Republican senators voted with Democrats to block the way. They are Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and, providing the decisive vote, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Trump advocated for a lower threshold, adding that "so many great future bills & budgets" ought to be able to pass with only 51 votes.


7:40 a.m.

Rep. Mo Brooks says the "failure" of the GOP health care overhaul is ultimately Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's responsibility.

The Alabama Republican said Friday on CNN that McConnell should press the Senate to pass a rewrite of President Barack Obama's signature law — or step aside.

Brooks said, "If they're going to quit, well then, maybe by God they ought to start at the top with Mitch McConnell leaving his position."

He added that "The leadership at the top is responsible. The buck stops there."

Brooks also questioned whether McConnell can accomplish Trump's other priorities, such as tax and infrastructure reform. The defeat early Thursday morning of the health care bill, Brooks said, is potentially "a killer" for the rest of the Trump agenda.


5:40 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has taken comfort in the defeat in the Senate of a Republican-pushed measure aimed at scaling back, or partially repealing, former President Back Obama's Affordable Care Act.

In a statement following defeat of the measure on a 49-51 vote, the California Democrat says, "The American people have spoken loud and clear against the higher costs and monstrous cruelty of Trumpcare."

She adds, "Now, Congress must finally pivot to the long overdue bipartisan work to update and improve the Affordable Care Act and to continue to lower Americans' health costs." Her counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, said after the votes that Democrats who resisted the GOP legislation "are not celebrating." But he also said that he's "relieved" the measure didn't pass.


3:39 a.m.

Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol.

Unable to pass even a so-called "skinny repeal," it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal "Obamacare."

"This is clearly a disappointing moment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time."

"It's time to move on," he said. The vote was 49-51 with three Republicans joining all Democrats in voting 'no.'

McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week.

Trump responded on Twitter: "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!"

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