McCain to vote no on ObamaCare repeal

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 (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 GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTax bill could fuel push for Medicare, Social Security cuts Collins to vote for GOP tax plan Overnight Tech: Lawmakers want answers on Uber breach | Justices divided in patent case | Tech makes plea for net neutrality on Cyber Monday 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 JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (Wis.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems look to use Moore against GOP Senate hearing shows Fed chair nominee acts the part Senate GOP votes to begin debate on tax bill 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 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 (R-Maine) on Friday said she is "leaning against" the bill, and several other key senators — including GOP Sen. 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) — remain on the fence.

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

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.) 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 ErnstThanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy US trade deficit rises on record imports from China Flake, GOP senators to meet with Trump on trade 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 GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy 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 CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 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 Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight 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 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 SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger 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.