On Wednesday, Mitch McConnell announced that Graham-Cassidy—the most damaging Obamacare repeal bill yet—will be put to a vote next week. That means that the fate of millions of people’s health insurance and more than a few thousand lives rests on the shoulders of two people: John McCain and Lisa Murkowski, both senators who voted no on the so-called “skinny” repeal. Currently, Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins are planning to vote against the bill, meaning that McConnell cannot afford to lose one more member.
Both McCain and Murkowski’s stated reasons for their indecision are bogus, as the current bill is basically a worse version of the previous ones. But at least Murkowski is projecting some facade of substance, stating that she is working to get a “full understanding as to numbers and formulas.” McCain’s excuse has been that he wants “regular order.” When asked by reporters whether that means he’s a “no,” McCain replied, “That means I want the regular order. It means I want the regular order!”
Well you’re not gonna get the regular order buddy! The Graham-Cassidy bill was introduced last week. It will be voted on next week, through reconciliation, meaning that it will only require a simple majority rather than the normal 60 votes. There will be a single, hastily scheduled hearing called “Block Grants: How States Can Reduce Health Care Costs.” The bill will only be eligible for 90 seconds of debate and the Congressional Budget Office won’t be able to release a full score before Republicans vote.
Nothing about this should convince McCain that Graham-Cassidy will go through regular order. He clearly knows this—when asked about the fact that the Senate scheduled a hearing next week, McCain reportedly said sarcastically, “I’m glad to hear that. That’s wonderful news. Ta-da!” He then played an imaginary trumpet with his fingers.
McCain has no right to be playing imaginary trumpets. If regular order is his main objection then he should have already announced that he won’t be voting for the bill. But McCain loves theatrics—during the last repeal effort, he literally flew across the country after being diagnosed with a brain tumor to flip the bird at McConnell and bask in the spotlight. Maybe he’s just waiting to do so again. But then again, he just might vote for a bill written by Lindsey Graham, one of his close friends. Either way, there’s no reason McCain can’t decide now.