After speaking to Pence and Graham, McCain walked across the Senate floor to tell Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats that he would vote with them. They laughed as McCain said that the reporters in the balcony could probably read his lips. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) embraced him.
When McCain walked to the front of the Senate chamber to cast his deciding “no” vote, giving a thumbs down, Democrats cheered, knowing the bill would fail.
“Skinny repeal fell short because it fell short of our promise to repeal & replace Obamacare w/ meaningful reform,” McCain said later on Twitter.
Trump had often expressed exasperation over the failure of congressional Republicans to overcome internal divisions to repeal Obamacare, but offered no policy specifics himself.
The president has demanded at various times that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own, that it should be repealed without replacement, and that it should be repealed and replaced.
After the bill’s defeat, Schumer told the Senate it was time to heed McCain’s call to return to a more transparent and bipartisan legislative process.
Democrats, and some Republicans, said the bill’s failure could present an opportunity for the two parties to work together to fix problematic areas of the Obamacare law without repealing it.