KHN Morning Briefing

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McCain’s Maverick Moment Caps Off Hill’s Dramatic Health Care Battle

When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) swooped back into town after being diagnosed with brain cancer, he was hailed as "an American hero" by the president. With a simple thumbs down vote in the early hours of Friday morning, though, he went against his party and helped kill Republicans' chance to fulfill seven years of promises. Media outlets look at what went down on Capitol Hill.

The New York Times: McCain’s Vote Provides Dramatic Moment In 7-Year Battle Over Obamacare
When Senator John McCain of Arizona returned to Washington with a fresh scar from brain surgery, it was widely seen as a dramatic effort to help Republicans overturn Obamacare. President Trump had criticized Mr. McCain in the past and derided his military service, saying in 2015 of the former Vietnam prisoner of war, “I like people who weren’t captured.” But this week Mr. Trump welcomed him back to Washington. (Ramzy, 7/27)

The New York Times: A Look Inside The Senate’s Late Night
The only certainty for senators on Thursday as they headed toward a showdown vote on a health care overhaul was that it would be a late night.Indeed, not until 2 a.m. Friday did the Senate finally stand down, after three Republicans voted against the so-called skinny repeal to reject their party’s push — and a yearslong promise — to scuttle former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. (Curtis, 7/28)

The Washington Post: The Night John McCain Killed The GOP’s Health-Care Fight
It was the most dramatic night in the United States Senate in recent history. Just ask the senators who witnessed it. A seven-year quest to undo the Affordable Care Act collapsed — at least for now — as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) kept his colleagues and the press corps in suspense over a little more than two hours late Thursday into early Friday. Not since September 2008, when the House of Representatives rejected the Troubled Asset Relief Program — causing the Dow Jones industrial average to plunge nearly 800 points in a single afternoon — had such an unexpected vote caused such a striking twist. (O'Keefe, 7/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate ‘Skinny’ Repeal Vote Was All About John McCain
As Mr. McCain entered the chamber, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) was urging his colleagues to find common ground. From a corner of the Senate chamber, Mr. McCain quietly clapped. It would be one of his most visible final gestures before Mr. McCain, at about 1:27 a.m., stuck his thumb down and formally registered himself as the vote that would block the GOP health plan from advancing. That vote took a long time to come. For almost an hour, the Senate clerks refrained from gaveling the previous vote to a close as Republicans clustered around Mr. McCain. First, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) squeezed him on the shoulder. Then, Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) joined them, laughing. Those were to be the only three Republican senators to vote against the GOP “skinny repeal” proposal, just enough to derail it—and with it the broader GOP effort to repeal and replace the ACA. (Hughes, 7/28)

Politico: How McCain Upended Obamacare Repeal
Paul Ryan couldn’t persuade him. Neither could Mike Pence. And in the end, President Donald Trump couldn’t reel in John McCain either. The president made a last-ditch effort, calling the Arizona senator and key holdout on the GOP’s Obamacare repeal measure, as the bill’s fate hung in the balance, according to two sources familiar with the conversation. After Pence had spent about 20 minutes working McCain, the senator went off the floor to speak with Trump by phone, those sources said. (Kim, Everett and Haberkorn, 7/28)

The Washington Post: ‘Wait For The Show’: High Drama And Low Voices In A Long, Weird Night At The Capitol.
What the hell was going on? Republicans finished writing something called a “skinny repeal” health-care bill over lunch Thursday and were trying to use it to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act late at night. Would it pass? What would happen if it did? And what on earth is a vote-o-rama? (Answer courtesy of Sen. Claire McCaskill: “A vote-o-rama is really weird,” the Missouri Democrat said. “And dumb.” Thanks, senator.) (Terris, 7/28)

CNN: John McCain's Maverick Moment
Shortly before Sen. John McCain entered the Senate chamber in the wee hours of Friday morning, reporters wanted to know how he'd vote. He instructed them to "watch the show." (Fox, 7/28)

CNN: Cryptic Phone Calls, Lip-Reading And A Thumbs-Down
It was a "no" that could barely be heard on C-SPAN, and a thumbs-down that viewers would not have been able to easily make out. But the moment was crystal clear for the dozens of reporters watching from the gallery above, who let out a collective gasp and made a stampede exit for the wooden double doors behind them to report the news. (Lee, 7/28)

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