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McCain to vote no on ObamaCare repeal

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.) on Friday announced that he will vote against the latest proposal to repeal ObamaCare, potentially dooming the legislation and, with it, the GOP's last shot at passing a health-care overhaul this year.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried," he said in a statement, referring to the legislation spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTo lower prescription drug prices, fix existing drug discount programs Kimmel writer tweets amount NRA has given lawmakers in response to shooting prayers Overnight Regulation: Trump unveils budget | Sharp cuts proposed for EPA, HHS | Trump aims to speed environmental reviews | Officials propose repealing most of methane leak rule MORE (La.).

Republicans have been racing toward a vote on health care next week, ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline for approving the bill on a majority vote.

They had been hopeful that McCain's close friendship with Graham and the support for the bill from Arizona's governor would be enough to win him over.

McCain suggested the decision had weighed on him, adding that he takes "no pleasure" in it.

“The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I," he said.

Graham quickly weighed in on McCain's decision, saying he disagrees but their friendship will survive.

"My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is," he said on Twitter.

Graham added that "I respectfully disagree" with McCain and "intend to push forward for state-centric health care vs Washington-knows-best health care."

Cassidy said he was "disappointed" in McCain's decision but pledged that he would continue to work for families "being penalized because they can't afford insurance."  

Supporters of Graham-Cassidy, which is also co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel tariffs Overnight Regulation: Trump unveils budget | Sharp cuts proposed for EPA, HHS | Trump aims to speed environmental reviews | Officials propose repealing most of methane leak rule Trump budget seeks savings through ObamaCare repeal MORE (Wis.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe siren of Baton Rouge Big Republican missteps needed for Democrats to win in November What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (Nev.), argue that it's the GOP's last chance to keep their promise to roll back former President Obama's signature law.

The bill seeks to give more power to the states by converting dollars currently spent on ObamaCare’s subsidies and Medicaid expansion into block grants to states. The bill would also allow states to waive ObamaCare regulations, including those protecting people with pre-existing conditions from being charged higher premiums.

Though McCain's opposition doesn't formally kill the legislation, it leaves leadership with a daunting task: Winning over every other member of a caucus that includes both moderates and firebrand conservatives. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already said he opposes the bill because it doesn't go far enough in repealing ObamaCare.

Other senators fear the bill's impact on state budgets and insurance coverage. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) on Friday said she is "leaning against" the bill, and several other key senators — including GOP Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (Alaska) — remain on the fence.

Three "no" votes would be enough to kill the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) earlier this week said he intends to hold a vote on Graham-Cassidy next week, but McCain's announcement throws those plans in doubt.

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstKimmel writer tweets amount NRA has given lawmakers in response to shooting prayers Both sides of immigration fight unhappy with Senate debate White House plays defense after FBI testimony MORE (R-Iowa), speaking at a town hall in Iowa City, floated that next week's vote could be pulled. 

"I'll be honest, it seems unlikely that we'll be voting on this," she said, according to The Washington Post.

Republicans had been open with their skepticism that the Graham-Cassidy legislation could get the needed 50 votes.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (R-Iowa) told Iowa reporters that Republicans were still at least two votes short "and I don’t see those other one or two votes coming." 

And Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas) told conservative radio host Michael Berry that "it's not clear if we're going to get to 50 votes or not." 

McCain, who has brain cancer, cast the decisive vote that halted the GOP's first ObamaCare repeal effort over the summer. With a dramatic thumbs down on the Senate floor, he stopped that legislation in its tracks.

Murkowski and Collins also voted against that "skinny" repeal bill.

McCain at the time complained the legislation had been rushed to the floor without going through the normal committee process, and he leveled that same complaint against Graham-Cassidy.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of [the] Sept. 30 budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process," he said on Friday. 

McCain also said he couldn't back the bill without seeing a full analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

Without a CBO score, McCain said, lawmakers have no "reliable answers" to questions about how much the bill will cost, how many people will be covered and how it will affect insurance premiums. 

The CBO has said its analysis won't be ready until next month.

McCain urged his colleagues to try to craft a bipartisan healthcare bill using "regular order." 

"We should not be content to pass health-care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs," he said. 

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt MORE (D-Wash.) had been leading bipartisan talks to try to get a deal on a bill that would stabilize the individual insurance market. 

But those talks were put on hold earlier this week after the White House and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.) warned they would not support a bill stabilizing ObamaCare.

McCain said Alexander and Murray had been "negotiating in good faith" and urged them to resume their talks if a third GOP senator comes out against the ObamaCare repeal bill. 

"I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed," he said. "I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail." 

Senate Democratic leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (N.Y.) expressed a similar hope.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator," Schumer said. "I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who has been waging a crusade against the Graham-Cassidy bill, hailed McCain as a hero.

— This report was updated at 3:20 p.m.