Early Friday morning the final health care bill was voted on.  In a somewhat surprising move, John McCain of Arizona followed the lead of Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine to vote against the “skinny repeal” amendment.  The final vote tally was 49-51.

Between the “Kicking the can” for a 2020 repeal vote and the Skinny Repeal vote there were a few other votes that took place mostly for political theater.

The Democrats tried to stop the votes from happening through various ways. Joe Donnely and Bob Casey each submitted motions to halt the health care bill by either sending the bill back to the finance committee to consider removing language from the bill that reduced or eliminated Medicaid expenditures. Senator Patty Murray attempted to get the bill sent back to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for more time before the vote. Chuck Schumer submitted a motion asking to return the Senate back to regular order and not vote on the bill until the proper committees had reviewed everything. Luther Strange from Alabama introduced an amendment to “Provide for premium assistance for low-income individuals.”  All of the motions respectively failed.

Dean Heller (who had previously voted against the BCRA and got some pushback from Trump due to the vote ) wanted to submit a “Sense of the Senate”  amendment that inserted language into the bill saying that Senate believed that Medicaid expansion is a priority and Obamacare should be improved.”  The vote was to ignore the Byrd rule (which we discussed here earlier) to allow the vote to go forward. It also was rejected.

Dean Heller also submitted a bill that would strike the sunset of the repeal of the tax on employee health insurance premiums and health plan benefits which would eliminate the tax on “Cadillac” plans.  The amendment did pass 52-48. (Though due to the American Health Care Act of 2017 bill not being passed the tax will still go into effect in 2020)

The most interesting bill that was voted on came from Steve Daines of Montana.  The amendment statement of purpose was “To provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents, improved health care delivery, and for other purposes.“.  It seemed the Republicans were trying to root out which Democrats would be willing to vote for a single-payer bill.  The bill ended up getting zero yeas, 57 nays, and 43 present votes.

According to Business Insider Steve Daines emailed them before the vote and said, “I do not support a single-payer system, but I believe Americans deserve to see us debate different ideas, which is why I am bringing forward this amendment. It’s time for every Senator to go on the record on whether or not they support a single-payer healthcare system.”

It also provided some choice words from Bernie Sanders.

“Mr. President, this is an exciting day. After years and years, there are some of my Republican colleagues have begun to understand that we cannot continue a dysfunctional health care system which allows 28 million Americans to have no health insurance, which forces us to pay the highest prices in the world by far for health care, and even higher prices, outrageously high prices for prescription drugs. So I understand that Senator Daines has introduced a Medicare for all single-payer system. I congratulate him. It sounds to me like the Republicans are beginning to catch on about the need to transform our health care and join the rest of the industrialized world. So I say to Senator Daines if he is prepared to vote for this legislation and if he can get maybe five, six more Republicans to vote for this legislation, I think we can win it. And I think the united states can join the rest of the industrialized world and finally guarantee health care to all people. So Senator Daines, five, six other Republicans vote for this, count me in, and we’re going to work together finally to provide health care to all people. But if Senator Daines is just playing a political trick,  … and does not intend to vote for this legislation or have any other Republican vote for it, I would suggest that every member in the senate vote present on this bill. Thank you, Mr. President.”

So I understand that Senator Daines has introduced a Medicare for all single-payer system. I congratulate him. It sounds to me like the Republicans are beginning to catch on about the need to transform our health care and join the rest of the industrialized world. So I say to Senator Daines if he is prepared to vote for this legislation and if he can get maybe five, six more Republicans to vote for this legislation, I think we can win it. And I think the United States can join the rest of the industrialized world and finally guarantee health care to all people. So Senator Daines, five, six other Republicans vote for this, count me in, and we’re going to work together finally to provide health care to all people. But if Senator Daines is just playing a political trick,  … and does not intend to vote for this legislation or have any other Republican vote for it, I would suggest that every member in the senate vote present on this bill. Thank you, Mr. President.”

So Senator Daines, five, six other Republicans vote for this, count me in, and we’re going to work together finally to provide health care to all people. But if Senator Daines is just playing a political trick,  … and does not intend to vote for this legislation or have any other Republican vote for it, I would suggest that every member in the senate vote present on this bill. Thank you, Mr. President.”

Bernie Sander’s spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis said in a text to Vox, “The Democratic caucus will not participate in the Republicans’ sham process. No amendment will get a vote until we see the final legislation and know what bill we are amending. Once Republicans show us their final bill, Sen. Sanders looks forward to getting a vote on his amendment that makes clear the Senate believes that the United States must join every major country and guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.”