When I heard on Monday that John McCain would be returning to Washington for Tuesday’s vote on the Senate health care bill, I was surprised, to say the least. Having just been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of brain cancer, and still recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from over his eye, I thought the last thing he would do was come back at that time … for a single vote. As I pondered why he would, at such a difficult time, come back to work to cast a single vote, I sensed there was more to this than met the eye.
Meanwhile, once it was announced that he would return for the critical vote, people made assumptions and began spouting their mouths before thinking, and I was disturbed by some of the comments I saw both on mainstream and social media. I saw him called a POS (piece of sh**) and worse. I even saw a few that said they were glad he had cancer. These were people who, like myself, opposed the inhumane health care bill that was on the Senate floor, and I could understand their frustration, but was disappointed in their lack of humanity under the circumstances.
McCain did return, and voted on Tuesday to open debate on repealing ACA (Obamacare). The vote was not, as some apparently believed, a vote to pass the bill, but merely to open debate on the Senate floor. In the back of my mind, I had a seed of doubt that he would actually vote for the bill itself, but merely felt it needed to be debated, as the specifics of the bill had been largely kept secret even from most senators. Meanwhile, the hostility from the masses grew more vile. For once in my life, I kept my mouth shut and adopted a “let’s wait and see” attitude. I did not discuss it with either family or friends, for I thought I knew what was about to happen, but I could not be sure.
The bill, then open to debate, would repeal large pieces of ACA without a replacement and would, by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates leave as many as 32 million people unable to afford health insurance. Although we were told a viable replacement would be forthcoming at some point in the future, there was no guarantee, and no word as to how far into the future.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska had made clear their intention to cast “nay” votes, so for the republicans, McCain’s support was crucial, but uncertain. The bill was debated, if one can call it that. McCain was coerced from many, including numerous senators, VP Pence, and even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tried to assure McCain that he would steer the House toward a conference committee with the Senate. McCain also received a phone call from Donald Trump at some point on Thursday.
And so, in the wee hours of Friday morning, the bill finally came up for a vote. So sure were the republicans that they had convinced Senator McCain, that Mike Pence was on hand, fully planning to cast the tie-breaking vote. Imagine, if you will, the surprise on the faces of some 49 republican senators when Senator John McCain, when called on for his vote, simply gave a thumbs-down signal. And the bill that would have hurt so many in order to benefit a select few was officially, as of 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning … dead.
“I thought it was the right vote,” McCain told reporters as he left the Capitol. “I do my job as a senator.”
As I said in a previous post, I have not always agreed with John McCain, but I always thought he voted his conscience, which is a lot more than can be said for so many on both sides of the congressional aisle.
McCain will return to Arizona this weekend to begin treatment for his cancer, and it is not yet known when or even if he will return to the senate. He came to town this week to review a bill and cast his vote for what he believed was best. He achieved that goal. He is an honourable man, and I hope … I sincerely hope that those who, without thinking, publicly accused him of treachery, will be as honourable and just as publicly tender an apology for their misspoken words. We The People, and I certainly include myself in this, need to learn to think before we speak, else we are destined to lose not only our credibility, but also our right to be heard. Think about it.