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Senate To Vote Soon On "Skinny Repeal"; Obamacare Repeal In Doubt, Vote Is Stalled; U.S. Senate Voting Now on Skinny Repeal Bill; 3 Republicans Joins Democrats to Defeat Obamacare Repeal; Senator McCain Voted "No" on Skinny Repeal Bill. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired July 28, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND COMMENTATOR: They want to keep ACA. They don't want Medicaid gutted. They want protections for their pre-existing condition. And that's what we're seeing right now. And as to the protesters, look, I was out there at the Capitol when the MTP was voted on the motion to proceed, and there was a protest out there and I got to talk to a lot just everyday people who came out with their kids who are sick.
And they were trying to figure out how is this going to affect their lives with their children -- people who had a preexisting condition. This is really real; this is not hyperbole here. People are truly concerned about how they're going to live. And that's what you see -- when you hear those protesters out there when Ryan is talking, those are the people who are out there.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What's interesting, I think, Steven, you bring up a very good point, when you talked about how Senator John McCain was so vehemently opposed to Obamacare. And if he does vote "no," we don't know, but if he does on this particular vote, he'll end up being the person who most likely will save Obamacare. But I mean, as you heard in that passionate speech, when he said, you know, and I'm saying this to everyone, Dana included, we simply must return to order. We have to stop the partisanship. We've got to do something. We're deadlocked. Nothing is happening here. The only thing we've accomplished as a body in this administration, according to John McCain, is Neil Gorsuch.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
LEMON: And just -- go on.
BASH: Yes. I think you're exactly right. And look, for all of the drama, and the well wishes, and somber and emotional tone and the moment that went along with John McCain returning to the Senate for the health care vote and speech that he gave that you were just quoting from, there was some disappointment in some circles. Certainly, not conservative circles and most Republican circles, but in circles of, I would say, maybe more independent, and even some Democrats who truly like John McCain. Disappointment that he didn't go as far with his maverick-y myth as he could have because he voted for the motion to proceed. So, the question now is whether he is going to take that maverick label and wear it proudly from his perspective, as he potentially is, somebody who takes this down because of the reasons that he was citing in the speech he gave earlier this year.
LEMON: It is interesting that he's dealing with --
BASH: I mean, earlier this week.
LEMON: He's dealing with health issues. He's dealing with issues of his own health and is, you know, facing the health care system right now.
LEMON: So, to him, anyone in that body, this is more important to him than anyone else because he's in the throes of it.
BASH: That's true because he has empathy. To be fair, John McCain doesn't have any money issues. I mean, he's -- he's just fine. He can get whatever health care, and whatever he needs to. And it's not just because of the Senate health care system. But he's empathetic, absolutely. Absolutely. That's a really good point. But that aside, I think it's, you know -- we'll see what he does. And if he votes for it, then we'll certainly hear from him on the reason why. But if he votes against it, he is looking his mortality right in the face.
And it's not the first time this has happened to John McCain who is a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam for five and a half years. But this is different. Brain cancer that he has is different. I mean, and he's not sure, and nobody is sure how long he is going to be there to even see Paul Ryan's promise on the phone go through. I mean, let's just be blunt about that. And so, that might be going through his mind right now. We'll see what he ends up doing.
LEMON: Let's remind our viewers what John McCain said just days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The administration and Congressional Democrats shouldn't have forced through Congress without any opposition support of social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn't do the same with ours. Why don't we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act? If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let's return to regular order. Let the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings. File a report of a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The question is, Dana, did he set the tone? Was this foreshadowing? We don't know at this point.
BASH: We don't know.
LEMON: We don't know. BASH: We don't know. But look, he was the McCain that I've seen so
many times earlier today in his press conference with his BFF, Lindsey Graham, and others, explaining where things stand. Throwing down a gauntlet to the -- his fellow Republican, the house speaker, saying, you've got to make a promise because what this bill is before on the Senate floor is not good. And they use words much more strong than that.
And so, he is kind of energized by the notion of being the guy to stand up for what is right. Not necessarily on policy, although that's clearly a big issue here because he thinks that this bill is not good. But also on the process, which speaks to the sound bite that you just played from his big speech this week.
[01:05:41] LEMON: Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill joins us now. Ryan, we're sort of at a stall here, trying to figure out what's going on. You're there, update us.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Don, just to add to your conversation with Dana about John McCain, and just the gravity of this situation, and what it means for his career historically. Dana's a 100 percent right, that he is always someone willing to challenge his party, at least through his rhetoric. But really, he is the ultimate team player when it comes to the Republican Party. And that's really been to the Republican Party's benefit throughout his entire career. I think, perhaps, maybe one of the best examples of that is back 2004 after he lost a bruising primary to George W. Bush in 2000.
He certainly flirted, openly, with the idea, perhaps, being John Kerry's running mate, who was the Democratic nominee at that time, but eventually pulled back from that and then gave one of, if not the most important speeches, on behalf of George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention. And then, not saying that that was the reason that George W. Bush won but certainly the fact that the Bush campaign was able to bring John McCain in was part of the reasons that they were able to coalesce independent voters and then go on to beat John Kerry.
So, there are numerous examples throughout the course of his career where he certainly will challenge his Republican colleagues. He will stand up and say, that he isn't necessarily in favor of their course of action, that they need to right the ship. And a lot of times that does lead to them doing things a little bit differently. But at the end of the day, he is still a pretty reliable Republican. He usually sides with Republicans and sides with the team. So, if he were to make a break like this, I think if you go back throughout his history, this would be perhaps his most important statement.
The most important example of his ability to be maverick, because this would actually be a physical vote that he was taking in opposition to his Senate majority leader, in opposition to his vice president who has personally gone up on the Senate floor tonight to try and plead with limb to cast a vote in the affirmative. So, you know, John McCain has had obviously a very important history and a legacy in this country that is second to none. But this will rank right up there as one of his most important moments in his political history if he turns out to not vote.
LEMON: You're there, and I know you're not, you know, on the Senate floor. But are you getting a sense of the mood there?
NOBLES: I mean, it seems to me, and I think from -- to Dana's point to our producers that have been in and out of the Senate chamber all night, that Republicans are concerned. I mean, they are scurrying around; they're trying to figure out exactly how to handle this situation. You see a variety of different conversations happening throughout the Senate floor, and you see the most important players involved in those conversations. You know, the idea that the vice president himself who thought he was coming up to cast a tie-breaking vote would be on the floor talking to Senators.
This is something you hardly ever see on the Senate floor. So, that, right there, gives you an indication as just how concerned Republicans are. And also the timing of this, you know, if they had the votes, this would have gone off without any kind of a delay. But the fact that we've been waiting so long in between when they dispatched of this amendment that would have sent it back to committee and then waiting now for them to vote on this replacement bill and they still haven't taken up the vote yet, that shows you that the votes aren't in place.
So, if they aren't able to marshal these votes, if there are three no votes on this, the question now is: what does Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn, his Whip, what do they do next? Do they forge ahead and just vote this bill down, and then try and fight another day with some different form of legislation? Or do they bring it back, and then continue to go through this process all over again? Because, keep in mind Don, and this is an important part of the conversation, one of the reasons they keep attempting to ram this particular bill through is because it falls under the rules of the Budget Reconciliation Act. And therefore, they only need a simple majority to pass it.
If this bill fails, and they've got to start from scratch, now you're talking about needing a bill that has 60 votes. Which is, you know, something, frankly that John McCain suggested they needed to do anyway to come up with some sort of bipartisan solution to this health care situation. But that's one of the reasons that -- I mean, I would be really surprised if Mitch McConnell just allowed this bill to die, because he would lose that very important tool that he has right now in his arsenal in order to get this health care reform bill passed at some point down the road.
[01:10:17] LEMON: Stand by. Dana Bash?
BASH: I just want to bring up some color as Ryan has been talking from our colleagues who are up there. First of all, Mike Pence, who, as Ryan said and I mentioned earlier, has been in an extraordinary move for a vice president on the Senate floor for a pretty long time, sitting with John McCain, talking to John McCain clearly trying to get him to vote yes. I should also say that at one point, apparently, John McCain was so emphatic. Our M.J. Lee reports that she could actually read his lips. And at
one point he said, I promise you, to Mike Pence. They don't know what he's promising, they don't what he's talking about, but that just kind of gives you a sense of, as you can imagine, how intense these conversations are. And also for a time, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom were the only Republicans to vote "no" on even proceeding to this, were kind of huddled around John McCain almost wanting to, you know, kind of be there for him for moral support.
LEMON: I'm being told, Mike Pence has left the chamber. And at one point, Democrats were surrounding John McCain speaking with him. And again, the Vice President of the United States has left the chamber. And as you said, if they had the votes --
BASH: Exactly. I would just want to say. I want to reiterate that, that votes are not held open and stalled because they want to give us drama at 1:11 a.m. on Friday morning. If they're held open, and they're stalled because -- generally because they don't have them. You know, could there be a parliamentarian issue or rule issue, because this is a very complicated piece of legislation and it has to -- in order to bring it through the Senate under, again, these so- called reconciliation rules, which allow it to come in and be voted on with only 51 votes. Sometimes there's that.
And this is a new piece of legislation because this skinny repeal vote bill was the only kind of finalized earlier this evening. That could be it. But it just seems from the mood, from the body language, from what we're hearing, and what we're seeing, that it's much more likely that it's stalled and it's open because they don't have the votes.
LEMON: I just -- again, I think Marco Rubio and John McCain are seen there at the top of the screen and trying to grab something, this is -- here it is. This is from Claire McCaskill. Claire McCaskill tweets, "There is now a glimmer of hope that we stop this and hopefully start over in a bipartisan way to stabilize insurance markets and bring down cost." So, here we go, Dana Bash, and that is again, Claire McCaskill, tweeting that our just moments ago. And so, again, we're just watching the floor here. And as you said, if they had the votes, they would be voting. They don't just hold it over. But how long can they go on?
BASH: Oh, they can go on until the sun comes up.
LEMON: OK. Great.
BASH: I mean, I'm sorry, that's not what you wanted to know. But yes, they can go on for a long time. And I think that the question is -- the question that Ryan asked is a really key question. Which is, if they don't have the votes, as it seems the case to be, given what we have been witnessing, what does Mitch McConnell do? I mean, he has been full-steam ahead, rhetorically. We're going to kick this vote. They promised their constituents, we're going to do it, so on and so forth. And yet, at every turn, when he didn't have the votes to pass it, he pulled back.
BASH: So, will he force Dean Heller, for example, just on the pure politics of this, he is the most endangered Republican incumbent Senator. Will he force him to take a vote on something that he can be completely attacked by? Attacked with by Democrats for no reason? If they know that this will fail, I kind of doubt it, that's not something that I would guess would he do. And in the more than likely scenario, than making people take a vote that they know is going to fail, they come up with another way to kind of move off of this without forcing people to, as they say, in Washington, in the Senate, walk the plank for no reason.
LEMON: For no reasons. What I'm thinking about is as I'm sitting here is that you know, you and I are of sound health and it is 1:00 in the morning and we're, you know, a bit tired, but still, we're going to continue on. The folks are watching, and they're watching from their cozy, comfy couches or at their beds, or what have you. Senator John McCain just had brain surgery.
LEMON: Yes. You know, not long ago, it's 1:00 in the morning and he's still at work now. I'm just wondering how he's holding up and how much longer can he deal with this, right?
BASH: I mean, it is remarkable.
LEMON: It is.
[01:15:00] BASH: It is remarkable. And I should also point out, and as somebody just said on Twitter and I think this is a really good point, Senator Hirono from Hawaii also has cancer, and she's had surgeries, and she's back there too. She doesn't have, you know, an inoperable brain cancer, but but she's -- neither a lot of people there who are doing. Things just, frankly, like people we know in the real world, who get up and good to work every day because they have to even though they're sick.
BASH: She doesn't have, you know, an inoperable brain cancer, but she's -- neither a lot of people there who are doing. Things just, frankly, like people we know in the real world, who get up and good to work every day because they have to even though they're sick.
LEMON: And it's important, I think, because we're dealing with health care, and it doesn't get any realer than that. You're voting on it deciding if how this country is going to deal with and handle the health care issue, and you're in the throes of the health care crisis in the moment. I need to get to Ryan Nobles, has some new information for us. Ryan, what do you know?
NOBLES: Well, I just wanted to add to your conversation about Senator McCain and, you know, his constitution as it were to withstand a vote like this, given everything that he's gone through with his health. And I can tell you, he has been here all week, and the way that he has maneuvered around the Senate is no different than what he was like before he discovered that he was dealing with brain cancer. You know, he is clearly one of the older members of this body, but any of us who spend any amount of time on Capitol Hill can tell you that he is always full of energy, always moving from one side of the Capitol to the other. He's very difficult for reporters like us to keep up with. And that didn't change at all this week just because he happened to have had brain surgery.
So you know, I don't think anybody would ever count him out in terms of his ability to stay up late and be a part of this process. But I do also want to make another point about, you know, where we go forward with this legislatively. And the question has to be asked, and Dana kind of made this point as well: how often are Republicans going to be content to continue to bang their head against the wall when it comes to this particular piece of legislation? I mean, we don't even have to talk about the fact they had the ability to have this conversation for the past seven years about what they were going to do with some form of replacement if they ever got the opportunity to pass a repeal. But here they are; they've been in power since the beginning of January and they have not even been close to some sort of consensus.
So, even though like, you know, we're talking tonight, about their inability to get this particular piece of legislation through, I mean, it's really just a mask for the much broader problems within the conference about exactly how to move forward on health care. I mean, now you talk about Medicaid alone, you have one side of the conference, the moderate side that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski who really don't want to see any changes to Medicaid. They want the Medicaid expansion to stay in place. They don't want any kind of reduction in the out-year spending. And then, have you Republicans on the other side, like Ted Cruz, and Ben Sasse, and Mike Lee, who want fundamental reforms of Medicaid.
They want to change the program completely. That's not something that you do in the next couple of days. And that's also not something that you can easily bridge a gap between these two different sides. So, those problems don't go away if they decide to pull back and start this process all over again. They're never going to go away. So, I think the question that a lot of us have been asking here for the past several weeks is exactly what is the path forward? What type of legislation could you envision that would meet all of these different requirements that you're looking for, and I just don't know what it is.
LEMON: We got to jump in. Thank you, Ryan. Go ahead, Dana.
BASH: I just want to make one point, as Ryan was talking, the vice president who is still on the floor of the United States Senate with having yet another, the umpteenth conversation with John McCain, and then John McCain turned around and walk away. Not in a huff, but just the conversation was over. And I think that as we're seeing this, it probably is worth noting that it is the vice president who has been up on Capitol Hill, up in the senate --
LEMON: Where's the president? BASH: Every single day. He's practically lived there this week and last week as well. He has been the guy. What we don't know is, as you said, where is the president? Is he making phone calls? Is he stepping back? This is his legacy too. This was his promise too.
Now, he does have a proxy, and his number two, vice president, who has taken the lead for lots of reasons. Not the least of which is that when the president did it in the House, it doesn't go that well, and the vice president in all fairness has a relationship with a lot of these members. He's served in the congress and he has kind of been the point person. But this isn't just about the United States Senate and the Republicans, this is about the president, a Republican President, who promised that he was going to do this and it was a huge part of his campaign.
LEMON: I'm not a body language expert, but as we were sitting here watching the Vice President and John McCain. And as they were talking, John McCain walked away and just sort of patted the vice president on his hand and walked away and left him standing there. And it's just interesting body language. Did you notice that?
BASH: Yes. He just kind of walked away, and the vice president was like, OK.
[01:15:07] LEMON: OK. So, we're going to walk away but just for a moment. Don't go anywhere. We need to take a quick break, and we're going to continue to watch this vote. The vote is stalled on this skinny repeal of Obamacare. After multiple tries, multiple tries of trying to get this done and here we are into the wee hours and it's still not happening. But we're on top of it and we're going to bring it to you live, so don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
LEMON: All right. Here we go! We're back now here live on CNN. You're looking at the Senate floor and this vote on the skinny repeal of Obamacare is now stalled. There is a hiccup. It's apparent that they don't have the votes. Don't know if they will. They could get them, but we don't know at this moment. Dana Bash is here, our Chief Political Correspondent, as well as Jonathan Tasini, Margaret Hoover, and Scott Jennings. Ms. Hoover, what's going on?
MARGARET HOOVER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND STRATEGIST: I remember, I was but a wee staffer on Capitol Hill when the Medicare Part D, Prescription Drug Bill, was left open for two hours and 51 minutes. It took waking up George W. Bush, the President, in the middle of the night and having him get on the phone with Representative Dr. Hastings of Washington to convince him that he absolutely had to vote for this bill. Now, I don't have a clue where President Trump is right now, but I know that looking, especially at the layout, getting President Trump on the phone with any of these Republican Senators were on the fence won't make a bit of a difference.
JONATHAN TASINI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They just announced that they were just announcing the vote to people -- on the vote, to Democratic vote to recommit the bill. Now, they're going to go, presumably, if they have the vote, we will see if they'll hold it open. But they announced that the Democratic vote went down to defeat by 52 --
HOOVER: As expected.
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT BUSH: Totally, that is totally expected.
BASH: But the fact they closed that vote means that you know, well, we will see. We'll see if there's going to be a resolution to whether or not they're going to go ahead with the vote skinny repeal or they're going to do something else.
LEMON: We're told this is a vote now.
[01:25:13] BASH: Then they're going to do it. There you go.
TASINI: Do they have the votes, you think?
LEMON: This is the moment that as they say, that we've all been waiting for. And especially to folks there in Washington, I'm sure the White House is watching as well. I'm sure the president is up watching. The question is, you know: is the president going to have to call, as Margaret said, as President George W. Bush did to have to convince folks, and Margaret is saying it just at this point --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cassidy.
LEMON: It won't make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cochran.
HOOVER: The majority of senators who are on the fence here have far outperformed Donald Trump in their districts and in their states, right? So, and the people who are there looking at Coons, Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito, John McCain. These people -- John McCain outperformed -- John McCain is not up for six more years if he is in the Senate now.
LEMON: OK. All right, let's listen in. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Collins. Mr. Coons?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Corker?
SEN. ROBERT CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cornyn? Ms. Cortez. Mr. Cotton. Mr. Cruz? Mr. Danes. Mr. Donnelly.
SEN. JOSEPH DONNELLY (D), INDIANA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Duckworth?
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Durbin. Mr. Enzi. Mrs. Earnest.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Feinstein. Mrs. Fisher.
SEN. DEBRA FISCHER (R), NEBRASKA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Flake. Mr. Franken.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Gardner.
JENNINGS: I hear them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Graham. Mr. Grassley. Ms. Harris.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Hassan.
SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: No
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hatch? Mr. Heinrich?
SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D), NEW MEXICO: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Heitkamp.
SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Heller. Ms. Hirono.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hoven. Mr. Enhoff. Mr. Isakson.
SEN. JOHN ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Johnson.
SEN. RONALD JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Kaine.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Kennedy. Mr. King. Ms. Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Lankford.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: Aye. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Leahy.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Lee.
SEN. MICHAEL LEE (R), UTAH: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Manchin.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Markey.
SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McCain. Ms. McCaskill.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McConnell. Mr. Menendez.
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Merkley.
SEN. JEFFREY MERKLEY (D), OREGON: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Moran. Ms. Murkowski.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Murphy.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Murray.
SEN. PATRICIA MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Nelson.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Paul.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Perdue.
SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: No. Sorry, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Peters.
SEN. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Portman. Mr. Reid. Mr. Risch.
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Roberts. Mr. Rounds.
SEN. MARION ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Aye.
[01:30:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Rubio. Mr. Sanders.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VIRGINIA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Sass? Mr. Shots? Mr. Schumer?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D), NEW YORK: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Scott. Mrs. Shaheen.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Shelby.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R), ALABAMA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Stabenow. Mr. Strange. Mr. Sullivan.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R), ALASKA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Tester. Mr. Thune. Mr. Tillis.
SEN. THOM TILLIS, (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Toomey.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Udall. Mr. Van Hollen. Mr. Warner. Ms. Warren.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D), MASSACHUSETTES: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Whitehouse. Mr. Wicker. Mr. Wyden. Mr. Young.
Senators voting in the affirmative. Alexander. Barrasso. Blunt. Bozeman. Burr. Capito. Cassidy. Cochran. Corker. Cornyn. Crapo. Dans. Enzi. Ernst. Fisher. Flake. Gardner. Graham. Grassley. Hatch. Hogan (ph). Inhofe. Isaacson. Johnson. Kennedy. Lankford. Lee. McConnell. Paul. Purdue. Portman. Risch. Roberts. Rounds. Rubio. Scott. Shelby. Strange. Sullivan. Thune. Tillis. Toomey. Wicker. Young.
Senators voting in the negative. Baldwin. Bennett. Blumenthal. Booker. Brown. Cantwell. Cardin. Carper. Casey. Collins. Coons. Cortez-Mastaeu. Donnelly. Duckworth. Durbin. Feinstein. Franken. Gillibrand. Harris. Hasson (ph). Heinrich. Heitkamp. Horono (ph). King. King. Klobuchar. Leahy. Mansion. Marky. McCain. McCaskill. Menendez. Merkley. Murkowski. Murphy. Murray. Nelson. Peters. Reed. Sanders. Shots. Schumer. Shaheen. Stabenow. Tester. Udall. Van Hollen. Warner. Warren. Whitehouse. Wyden.
Mr. Moran. Mr. Moran. Aye.
DON LEMON: CNN ANCHOR: OK. So they're still voting. It is not closed yet. But it could change. We don't want to report something that will change. The important thing to report though is that Senator John McCain has voted "no."
LEMON: Along with --
[01:34:38] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And the key thing here now is, exactly, that there are three Republican Senators who voted "no." Which means unless someone has a change of heart before that gavel goes down, this skinny repeal bill is dead. And it also means that this whole process is thrown up into complete chaos. Not that what you have seen has been smooth sailing but even more so.
The skinny repeal bill is dead. And Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, will have to figure out a way what to do next. Likely he is going to figure out a way to technically send it back to committee, which will kind of try to keep it on life support while they figure out if they can have another path forward.
So the important thing is what you see on the bottom of your screen, Senator John McCain voted "no." He came in here, even asked his doctors -- despite the fact that he has aggressive brain cancer, he asked his doctors to let him come back in the arena this week at this very important momentum. Gave a speech about standing up to partisanship, being bipartisan, regular order, letting the process work. Scolded Republicans, scolded Democrats. But at beginning, he voted to at least allow the debate. And now he is -- he is -- he knows that this is not good for him. His prognosis, his medical prognosis is very grim. And he has made his career out of being a maverick. That's how he ran in 2008. Certainly, how he ran in 2000. This is a moment he understands will help cement that, which I guarantee you -- and we will hear from him -- is a big reason why he just did this.
BASH: Go ahead.
LEMON: Go on.
BASH: It's a -- it's an unbelievable thing that will have a lot of Republicans mad at him. A lot of Democrats cheering for him. And you know, this is one of those "aha" moments. LEMON: Again, before everyone jumps, we want to be clear here. Until
that gavel goes down, anything can change. For all intents and purposes, with three Republicans voting "no," if this stands, once this gavel comes down, in moments, attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, are now over. Obamacare is the law of the land. Until this gavel comes down, it is not official.
This is one of the things he ran on, repealing and replacing Obamacare. It has failed. Seven attempts have failed so far. So the question is -- and again, I want to wait for that gravel to make it official here on CNN. Is not real until that happens. It is not real until we say it. But if it does, what happens to the GOP?
BASH: To the GOP?
BASH: Ask the Republican at the table.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is there any way for Mitch McConnell to resurrect this is the real question. Maybe what is historic about this, if it ends up closing, it they don't change any votes, right? It is still open. This can still change. It is an incredibly historic moment that is a negative moment. Right? A moment where people have voted "no." And it's hard to -- I can't even think of a historic parallel where something so significant happened in the negative, not in the affirmative.
JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So three quick things. One is before we forget while I was off camera, you did a great job on you know, really building drama. I just want to recognize that. In describing what was happening. For a viewer like me, sitting on the side, it was fantastic.
Look, two things. Millions of people will have health insurance. I think millions will breathe a sigh of relief. Speaking for Democrats, I wouldn't be surprised if Chuck Schumer, after the vote, maybe it won't happen tonight, but he will probably rise and say now that this is lost, and defeated, I want to go back to the Republicans and say what the Democrats have been saying on the floor now for the last number of days, let's go back now to the committees. We all Democrats said the Affordable Care Act has issues, problems, all Democrats have said that. And my guess is from a political standpoint -- and take the high road -- I wouldn't be surprised if Schumer makes that offer.
LEMON: Listen, I want to show, this is the moment John McCain voted "no." I will tell you what happens. He walks across the screen.
Stand by. They are closing the vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Motion is not agreed to. Amendment is not agreed to.
BASH: Lost by one vote. Senator McConnell is going to --
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: By unanimous consent, H.R. 1628 be returned to the calendar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there objection?
[01:39:37] MCCONNELL: So Mr. President, this is clearly a disappointing moment. From skyrocketing costs to plummeting choices and collapsing markets, our constituents have suffered through an awful lot under Obamacare. We thought they deserved better. It is why I and many of my colleagues did as we promised and voted to repeal this failed law. We told our constituents we would vote that way. And when the moment came, when the moment came, most of us did. We kept our commitments. We worked hard. And everybody on this side can certainly attest to the fact that we worked really hard to try to develop a consensus for a better way forward.
And I want to thank everybody in this conference for the endless amount of time that they've spent trying to achieve a consensus to go forward.
And I also want to thank the president and vice president who couldn't have been more involved and more helpful.
So, yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment, indeed.
Our friends over in the House, we thank them as well.
I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time.
Now 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. Our friends on the other side decided early on that they didn't want to engage with us, and in a serious way, in a serious way, to help those suffering under Obamacare. They did everything they could to prevent the Senate from providing a better way forward, including such things as reading amendments for endless amounts of time. Such things as holding up nominations for key positions in the administration because they were unhappy that we were trying to find a way to something better than Obamacare. So I suspect that they are pretty satisfied tonight. I regret to say that they succeeded in that effort.
So now, I think it is appropriate to ask, what are their ideas? It will be interesting to see what they suggest as the way forward.
For myself, I can say that -- I'm pretty safe from saying on this side of the aisle that bailing out insurance companies, bailing out insurance companies, with no thought of any kind of reform, not something I want to be part of. And I suspect there are not many folks over here that are interested in that, but it'll be interesting to see what they have in mind. Quadrupling down on the failures of Obamacare with a single-payor system. We had that vote a little earlier, thanks to the Senator from Montana. Almost everybody voted present. Apparently, they didn't want to make a decision about whether they were for or against socialized medicine, a government takeover of everything, European health care. Only four of them weren't afraid to say they didn't think that was a good idea. Maybe that's what they want to offer. We will be happy to have that debate with the American people.
So it's time for our friends on the other side to tell us what they have in mind. And we will see how the American people feel about their ideas.
So I regret that we're here. But I want to say, again, I'm proud of the vote I cast tonight. It's consistent with what we told the American people we would try to accomplish in four straight elections if they gave us a chance. And I want to thank all of my colleagues on this side of the aisle for everything they did to try to keep that commitment.
[01:45:18] What we tried to accomplish with the American people was the right thing for the country. And our only regret tonight, our only regret, is that we didn't achieve what we had hoped to accomplish. I think the American people are going to regret that we couldn't find a better way forward. And as I said, we look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind.
So now, Mr. President, it's time to move on. And I ask unanimous consent that at 10:00 a.m. on July 28th, tomorrow, the Senate proceed to consideration of calendar number 175, H.R. 2810, the House-passed National Defense Authorization Bill.
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Mr. President --
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Objection.
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: I object.
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: The objection is heard.
MCCONNELL: I suggest --
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Mr. President --
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Mr. President --
MCCONNELL: Give us a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clerk will call the role.
UNIDENTIFIED CLERK: Mr. Alexander.
LEMON: OK. So we're back now.
So what they are -- I think the important thing that he said is that it is time to move on. He tried to bring on the calendar, move past this and bring up another bill on the calendar and now there is an objection.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's an objection heard. Now quorum call.
LEMON: As Dana said, this is a pause button.
BASH: Yes. Key thing -- and Scott Jennings, who is a Republican who worked in the Bush White House and has seen many a big vote and understands the language of Washington, noted that the key thing in what Mitch McConnell said, time to move on.
BASH: Time to move on. They're sending it back to committee which is, you know, what you need to do to keep options open.
SCHUMER: And we're at this point. I want to say three things. First, I would suggest we turn the page. It's time to turn the page. I would say to my dear friend, the majority leader, we're not celebrating. We are relieved that millions and millions of people who would have been so drastically hurt by the three proposals put forward will at least retain their health care. Be able to deal with preexisting conditions. Deal with nursing homes and opioids that Medicaid paid for. We are relieved. Not for ourselves, but for the American people.
But as I said, over and over again, Obamacare was hardly perfect. It did a lot of good things. But it needs improvement. And one part of turning that page is that we go back to regular order, work in the committees, together, to improve Obamacare. We have good leaders. The Senator from Tennessee. And the Senator from Washington. The Senator from Utah. The Senator from Oregon. They have worked well together in the past. And can work well together in the future.
There are suggestions that we are interested in that come from members on the other side of the aisle. The Senator from Maine, Senator from Louisiana. So let's turn the page and work together to improve our health care system.
And let's turn the page in another way. All of us were so inspired -- by the speech and the life of the Senator from Arizona. He asked us to go back to regular order, to bring back the Senate that some of us who were here, have been a while remember. Maybe this can be a moment where we start doing that. Both sides will have to give. Blame hardly falls on one side or the other. But if we can take this moment, a solemn moment, and start working this body the way it had always worked until the last decade or so, with both sides to blame for the deterioration, we will do a better job for our country, a better job for this body, and a better job for ourselves.
And finally, I'm glad that the leader asked us to move to NDAA. We need do it. I can say, on this side of the aisle, we will move expeditiously. I know that the Senator from Rhode Island worked with the Senator from Arizona on a list of amendments that can be agreed to and we can finish this bill up rather quickly. And as I mentioned to the majority leader, there's some other things we can do rather quickly, including moving a whole lot of nominations.
So we can work together. Our country demands it. Every place in every corner of the world -- of the country, where we go, the number- one thing we are asked -- and I know this because I've talked to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle -- is can't you guys work together? Let's give it a shot. Let's give it a shot.
I yield the floor.
[01:51:21] LEMON: All right. So there you go. I'm sort of at a loss for words for this as I'm sure people who are --
JENNINGS: He tried to give an olive branch.
LEMON: There you heard from minority leader and also from the major majority leader.
But it's important, Scott, as you pointed out earlier, the important thing that Mitch McConnell said is it is time to move on. Do you think John McCain came back just, you know, sort of his --
JENNINGS: I think about two dates, July 18, 2015, February 9, 2017. These dates are the two times that I can think of that president, Donald Trump, dramatically insulted John McCain. In 2015, he said, I don't like people who were captured. He is not a hero. In 2017, he said, he has been losing so long he doesn't know how to win any more. Here we sit tonight and John McCain flew all the way back across the country --
LEMON: After having brain surgery.
JENNINGES: --and stuck it to Donald Trump's legislative agenda tonight. I can't help but think about these three dates in time, all being now linked forever.
HOOVER: Who is winning now, Donald Trump? Who is winning now, Donald Trump?
LEMON: Seriously, shouldn't he have been nicer to John -- and until he thought John McCain could help him the other day, he called him brave. He put out that statement when he did surgery. But that's performance --
HOOVER: Let's pull back the petty drama. This is more than just sort of -- this is seven years, eight years of Republicans saying they were going to fix the Affordable Care Act. They would change it. Policy after policy, idea after idea. It is not true that Republicans didn't have ideas, didn't know how to do this. They couldn't agree on a single strategy. Now it failed and Mitch McConnell said it is time to move on. This is massive, colossal -- cannot be overstated -- failure for the Republican Party.
TASINI: There is a lost focus on McCain. But let's point out that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins -- and Susan Collins in particular, one of the most vocal people who voted against the motion to proceed -- they were heroes here and stood up against the Republican leadership. And certainly, Susan Collins exhibited, in my view, much more leadership and opposition to Donald Trump than John McCain did.
JENNINGS: And Murkowski had her own run-in this week, right? Isn't there a story, Dan, brewing now over the interior secretary --
HOOVER: Interior secretary.
JENNINGS: -- calling her up and threatening her? The Senate is harder to threaten than the House.
JENNINGS: It's important to remember, Senators are hard to sort of politically cajole from the White House. The House, they are on the ballot all the time. But the Senators are not on the ballot and have been around a little bit, much harder to push around.
LEMON: Huge loss for Republicans. Huge win for Democrats.
Karine Jean-Pierre, I'm sure you will agree as you've been sitting by patiently watching this unfold.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Yes. The way that I see it, is for many people out there, millions of people who on health care, this wasn't about politics. This was about their lives. This is a huge win for them. I think that's what's important here. Is that people are now going to be able to move forward knowing that they have health care. Now the question is, will both sides come together to figure out how to fix Obamacare? I'm not going to be Pollyannaish about that. Hillary Clinton when she was running admitted that. We need to come together and figure out thousand cover more people. How to fix things that need fixed in Obamacare. That's what we have to wait and see.
LEMON: Jason Kander?
[01:55:08] JASON KANDER, FORMER MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE: This is in the right direction. This is a win for American people. People can't want this. They didn't want Trumpcare. It is not going to happen. Senator McConnell said maybe it is time to actually talk to Democrats. He looked around and realized there are 48 people in his workplace that have ideas to offer.
And look, what I'm excited about right now, is the potential here and it's not just the potential to make some of the improvements to Obamacare that President Obama talked about on his way out of office. It is the potential for people who've marched, went to town halls, made phone calls, people who invested a lot of emotional energy, good, positive, spiritual emotional energy into defending their friends and neighbors who at least tonight can look at this and say, that made a difference. Now we have a chance to do something. I hope that this is an injection of energy into some really amazing people around this country who stepped up and said, yes, I know it doesn't look good but we're not going to let this happen.
LEMON: Dana Bash, you have been speaking with a McCain aide?
BASH: Yes. I just got a text from someone, who said - I asked, any color about how this went down? And the answer was, that at the end of the day, he was wanted to be consistent and this, at the end of the vote, with what he said before he agreed to start debate, which is don't repeat the mistakes the Democrats made in 2009. And from his perspective that was, you know, doing it with just moving this process with just Democrats. Return to regular order. So that is sort of what he will say. This is what I laid out when I came in. And that's what I did.
And you know, there is so much to unpack here. The biggest of which is, of course, the failure of Republicans to keep a massive campaign promise that they used successfully to win control of the House in 2010, win control of the Senate the next time around, and win the White House in 2016. Three branches of government, guys, three branches, all taken over by Republicans, primarily on the promise to repeal Obamacare, and they couldn't get it done.
BASH: And just, but -- even though that is the biggest thing, I just, as someone who covered John McCain for a long time, I just think a few other beats on the fact that sticking it to Donald Trump was probably a very, from his point of view, nice side benefit.
But I also think this is about legacy. This is about his legacy.
BASH: This is about cementing his legacy. Knowing that he doesn't have a lot of time left. And he loves more than anything else being the maverick, being the statesman. And this allows him to, you know, to go out on a massive piece of legislation, cementing that label.
LEMON: And I didn't mean to cut you off.
LEMON: It is a dramatic return. He made dramatic turn. He was a fierce critic, as pointed out earlier, of Obamacare.
BASH: And still is.
LEMON: And still is. But he saves Obamacare and makes it the law of the land.
LEMON: And I don't know if there is anything else, any other rabbits that Republicans can pull out of their hat, but it appears at this moment -
LEMON: -- it is over -- what did you say, Jason?
KANDER: He knows it is better than what Trumpcare was offering. He knows with Senator Collins, Senator Murkowski, looked at this and said it is wrong. We shouldn't overthink this. In the end, he did what a lot of Americans have done. A lot of Americans who maybe were not fond of Obamacare and reputation it had when it passed. I've talked to a lot of them over the last several months who say, what they are offering is not better. What should happen is people should do what President Obama said should be done and improve it. That's what people do in their own workplaces. John McCain said, this is not better.
HOOVER: This failure is a colossal failure. What I would be most interested to see is how the Republicans support for the president continues after this. Because about 83 to 85 percent of Republicans have continued to support President Trump. And a lot of that is because they don't like the attitude. They don't like the shenanigans. They don't think his behavior is presidential. They stood by because they believed that unified control of Congress and Washington, executive branch and Congress, would get them a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and tax reform and policies that Republicans have stood for, for decades, frankly. Now you have -- this week, has been really a point, have you had the failure of health care to pass after promises for eight years. You have signs in the Senate and in Washington that there is a real crack in support for Donald Trump.