In the early hours of Friday morning, the Senate narrowly struck down a “slimmed down” healthcare replacement bill that would leave 15 million more uninsured in 2018, with Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins splitting from party lines to vote against the Republican-backed measure.
The next morning, many outlets are crediting McCain as the hero for casting the deciding vote. But remember that the Senate would not have been voting on this bill at all had Tuesday’s motion to proceed failed—and while Murkowski and Collins voted against the measure then, McCain didn’t.
It is also frustrating to see McCain reap the adoration when both Murkowski and Collins have been consistently bullied by their own party throughout this process. Trump is actually punishing the entire state of Alaska for Murkowski’s vote, and earlier this week, Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold blamed women Republican senators for stalling the bill. He even challenged them to a duel, saying, “If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”
McCain’s political grandstanding didn’t end with the dramatic, tie-breaking vote, either. After his little performance last night, McCain’s office released a statement calling for the “return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.”
You know what else sends the message you want to “return to the correct way of legislating”? Consistently voting “no” on a motion, which is the only statement from a senator that truly matters, and which McCain did not do on Tuesday. In fact, thanks to his vote in support of this atrocious measure, Congress spent a week playing Russian Roulette with millions of people’s access to healthcare.