The Latest: Graham defends McCain vote against health bill

September 26, 2017 GMT
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., left, stops to talk with Jamie Davis Smith, and her children from left, Ben, 9, Claire 11, and Sarah, 7, following a news conference to oppose GOP's Graham-Cassidy health care repeal strategy, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., left, stops to talk with Jamie Davis Smith, and her children from left, Ben, 9, Claire 11, and Sarah, 7, following a news conference to oppose GOP's Graham-Cassidy health care repeal strategy, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Republican effort to overhaul the Obama health law (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is defending his friend, GOP Sen. John McCain, against criticism from President Donald Trump.

McCain, who decisively voted against a GOP health care bill in July, is opposed to the latest, last-ditch version sponsored by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy.

Trump took to Twitter Monday night to lash out at McCain, highlighting the multiple times McCain talked about repeal and replace of Barack Obama’s health care law.

Asked during a CNN debate Monday night about Trump’s tweet, Graham says McCain was willing to die for his country and he can vote any way he wants. McCain was a Navy pilot whose plane was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war.



9:30 p.m.

Republican Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the latest GOP health care bill is drawing an angry tweet from President Donald Trump.

Trump tweeted Monday night: “A few of the many clips of John McCain talking about Repealing & Replacing O’Care. My oh my has he changed - complete turn from years of talk!”

Trump’s tweet accompanied six minutes and 24 seconds of clips of McCain promising repeal and replace of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the years.

McCain announced Friday that he couldn’t support the latest bill, arguing for a bipartisan effort.

Earlier in the day, Trump blistered McCain for his decisive July vote killing an earlier Republican effort to erase the 2010 law. Trump called that “a tremendous slap in the face of the Republican party.”


9:20 p.m.

The debate goes on — even as the numbers suggest the latest GOP health care bill is doomed.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a co-sponsor of the bill, says: “We’re going to press on. It’s OK to vote. It’s OK to fall short.”

It was unclear whether the Senate will vote this week on the bill by Graham and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Top Senate Republicans say the prospects are bleak. GOP Sens. Rand Paul, John McCain and Susan Collins say they oppose the bill. That’s one too many for Republicans who are trying to get the bill passed with GOP votes alone.

Graham and Cassidy defended their bill against criticism from Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on CNN Monday night.



9 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police say they arrested 181 demonstrators who delayed a Senate hearing on health care, protesting Republican efforts to scuttle Obamacare.

Police on Tuesday carried some demonstrators out of the hearing room and took out others in wheelchairs as scores chanted, “No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty.”

The protest came as Republicans are trying to salvage their latest last-ditch bill to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

In a statement late Monday, the police say they arrested 15 demonstrators and charged them with disruption of Congress.

The police also arrested 143 people in the hallway outside the committee hearing room. They were charged with crowding and obstructing.

Twenty-three people were charged with crowding, obstructing and resisting arrest.


6:20 p.m.

Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins says she’s against the last-gasp Republican health care bill. That means there are more than enough Senate GOP opponents to kill the party’s drive to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The only remaining hope for the White House and party leaders is to change opponents’ minds. A showdown will come this week.

Collins’ announcement comes as the Congressional Budget Office says the GOP bill would reduce health insurance coverage for “millions” of people.

Collins is the fourth GOP senator to come out against the measure. Arizona’s John McCain, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Texas’ Ted Cruz also say they oppose it, though Cruz aides say he’s seeking changes so he can vote “yes.”

All Democrats and independents will vote “no,” so opposition by just three Republicans would kill the legislation.

The collapse of the effort would be another major setback for President Donald Trump and Senate GOP leaders.


6:15 p.m.

The Congressional Budget Office says the new Republican bill aimed at repealing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul would reduce health insurance coverage for “millions” of people.

The nonpartisan analysts say people would lose coverage in part because of $1 trillion in cuts through 2026 in Medicaid. That’s the health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Others would drop policies because the bill would halt federal subsidies Obama’s law gives them. Still others would be uninsured because the measure drops the law’s tax penalty on people who don’t buy coverage.

The GOP bill has been losing Republican support and seems unlikely to survive.

The budget office says it will take weeks to produce a more precise estimate of the bill’s impact.


5:55 p.m.

A top Senate Republican say he doubts whether the latest GOP health care bill will even come up for a vote this week. And another top Republican says a meeting on Tuesday of all Senate Republicans will decide the measure’s fate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah was asked on Monday if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring the bill up for a vote. Hatch replied, “I doubt it.”

Prospects for the bill are uncertain as a decisive handful of Republicans remain opposed to the measure by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

But the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn of Texas, says Republican leaders will have to meet with the rank and file on Tuesday before any decisions are made.


2:10 p.m.

Protesters in wheelchairs interrupted Tuesday’s hearing on the GOP’s health care bill — loudly screaming, “No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!”

The noisy protests forced Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch to recess the hearing just moments after it began.

Hatch told the protesters, “If you want a hearing you better shut up!” His complaint was to no avail as the protests continued.

So Hatch then shut the hearing down, saying it would resume when order was restored.

The protesters are being removed from the hearing room one by one.

The hearing comes as Senate Republicans pursue a last-ditch effort to pass legislation to repeal and replace “Obamacare.” They appear to be short of votes ahead of a make-or-break deadline at the end of this week.


11:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain delivered “a tremendous slap in the face of the Republican Party” by voting to kill the party’s July effort to repeal the Obama health care law.

McCain returned to the Senate after being diagnosed with brain cancer and voted against the bill in a dramatic post-midnight roll call. He was the third Republican to vote “no,” just enough to kill it.

Trump says, “That’s the only reason we don’t have it, because of John McCain.”

Trump called the “Rick and Bubba Show,” an Alabama-based talk radio program. Trump has been campaigning to help Alabama GOP Sen. Luther Strange win a primary contest this week.

GOP leaders face an uphill fight this week to prevent a final defeat of their health effort.


11 a.m.

A spokesman for Sen. Rand Paul says the Kentucky Republican remains opposed to the GOP bill repealing the Obama health care law. Paul’s opposition would almost certainly doom the measure.

Just three Republican opponents would kill the bill in the narrowly divided Senate.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain opposes the measure and Maine Republican Susan Collins seems almost sure to do so. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski is undecided but voted against earlier versions this summer.

Spokesman Sergio Gor says Paul wants a “significant” reduction in the law’s $1 trillion in spending, elimination of its coverage requirements and establishment of broad health plans consumers could join.

Gor calls meeting those demands “the only way” Paul votes yes.

Republicans have revised their bill in hopes of winning votes needed to avert defeat.


9:52 a.m.

Republicans have released a revised version of their legislation dismantling the Obama health care law. It contains added money and newly eased coverage requirements aimed at winning over GOP senators whose opposition could well sink the bill.

The proposal would allow states to let insurers boost premiums on people with serious pre-existing medical conditions and on older customers. They could also let insurers sell lower-cost policies covering fewer services than President Barack Obama’s health care law requires.

The initial version of the Republican bill required states to get federal approval to make those changes. The changes might help win over Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who said he wanted added steps to reduce premiums.

Sponsors say the measure adds money for states with dissident senators including Maine, Alaska and Kentucky.


4:18 a.m.

Top Republicans are adding money to their staggering effort to repeal the Obama health care law and say they’re pushing toward a climactic Senate faceoff this week. Yet their path to succeeding in their last-gasp effort has grown narrower, perhaps impossible.

GOP senators’ opposition to their party’s drive to scrap President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act swelled to lethal numbers Sunday. Moderate Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the teetering bill and conservative Sen. Ted Cruz said that “right now” he doesn’t back it.

President Donald Trump has pressed for a fresh vote, and White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the measure’s sponsors, said Republicans would move toward a vote this week.