McCain, Murkowski Among Several Republicans Undecided on New GOP Health Care Bill

Sen. John McCain speaks during debate on health care on July 27, 2017. (Credit: CNN)

Senate Republicans are coming back to Washington Monday night to find a new effort to revamp Obamacare is in full swing. And many of the key votes say they’re undecided.

Sen. John McCain — who helped defeat the GOP health care bill this summer — says he is still “deeply disturbed” by the process Congress is using to try to repeal Obamacare.

“We’ve had nine months. That’s my answer. We’ve had nine months to get it done and we haven’t,” McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN. “Is it my problem now that we only have a week? It’s not my problem.”

With just a week left before a September 30 deadline, Republicans are now scrambling to recover from their initial failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, and GOP leadership is preparing for a potential floor vote on the plan from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

But despite his feeling that a health care bill should go through committee, like the National Defense Authorization Act, McCain told CNN on Monday that he is “looking at it very carefully.”

Sen. Rand Paul on the other hand said Monday that he was flat-out opposed to the legislation, calling it “a bad bill.”

“I just think this is not repeal, and I’m not for it,” Paul, R-Kentucky, said.

Paul told reporters he was surprised the bill has picked up momentum, and said he is now starting to worry about the bill’s chances of passing.

But Paul added the cuts the Medicaid could jeopardize moderate votes.

“I think it’s more complicated that some people make it out to be,” he said.

Some senators have also spoken with their governors about the bill, including McCain and Sen. Lisa Murkowski — who both voted against the initial attempt to overhaul health care earlier this summer.

Murkowski said she shared notes with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker Monday afternoon, and is trying to decipher how various funds are allocated within the proposal.

“He said, ‘I understand that a block grant gives me increased flexibility but if I don’t have the dollars to help implement the flexibility that doesn’t help is much.’ So, we are both trying to figure out how those dollars fall,” Murkowski said of her conversation with Walker.

“As you know I made quite a big point of process the last go ’round and it just seemed that we were throwing different things at the wall to see what would stick,” Murkowski said about the current attempt. “We are now having bipartisan hearings, I have attended those.”

McCain wouldn’t say if Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had encouraged him to back the legislation.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations,” McCain said.

Also undecided is Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana — a usually reliable GOP vote — and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.

Kennedy said he began looking at the bill this weekend but wants to see some changes, like making the work requirement mandatory for states.

And when West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was asked about her thoughts, she only pursed her lips and would not answer.

“I’m late,” Capito said as she walked into the evening’s leadership meeting.