Dem senator on McCain: ‘I was trying not to jump up and down and smile’

Dem senator on McCain: ‘I was trying not to jump up and down and smile’
© Greg Nash

A Democratic senator said Friday that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE's (R-Ariz.) deciding vote to kill the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare came as a joyful surprise to many Democrats.

Describing the mood in the Senate chamber during the vote, Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate ethics panel wants details on sexual harassment allegations American innovation depends on strengthening patents Tax reform and innovation – good news and a cloud MORE (D-Conn.) said he was elated when McCain shared with Democrats how he planned to vote.

Just after 1 a.m., McCain suddenly moved from the Republican side of the chamber to converse with Democrats, including Coons. It was then that the Arizona Republican told the Democrats his decision.

"He stood with a group of us and said, 'I am a no,' " Coons told CNN after the vote. "I was trying not to jump up and down and smile."

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McCain was one of three GOP senators who defected and joined Democrats to kill the Republican repeal effort, along with Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (Alaska).

Senate leaders reacted to the Republicans' role in killing the bill with dismay.

“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) said.

“I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time. Now, I imagine many of our colleagues on the other side are celebrating. Probably pretty happy about all this. But the American people are hurting, and they need relief.”

After the vote, McCain said in a statement that he wanted to use the committee process to work on crafting a better bill to repeal ObamaCare that could actually pass the Senate and the House.

“We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of the aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people,” McCain said in a statement early Friday.