Congressional Democrats are praising Republican Senator John McCain after he helped them defeat a proposed law Thursday night that would have repealed the seven-year old Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he and McCain have "been friends for a very long time" and McCain showed "amazing courage" in voting with the Democrats.
"Last night was an amazing moment, and the credit goes to a lot of people, but at the top of the list are the three who showed amazing courage to resist the pressure and do what's good for the country," Schumer said. "John McCain is at the top of the list."
McCain, of Arizona, was one of three Republican lawmakers, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who voted with Democrats in the 49-51 defeat of the Republican-led repeal effort.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi similarly thanked McCain for "establishing a higher level of participation," indicating the level of bipartisanship she would like to see moving forward.
"Right now, we go forward recognizing the value of the Affordable Care Act, which last night was once again protected and we take great pride in that," she said.
President Donald Trump took to his Twitter account shortly after the vote to admonish the Republicans who sided with the Democrats. "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!" the president wrote.
Watch: Trump Says Let Obamacare Implode after Repeal Effort Fails
The so-called "skinny repeal" legislation would, among other things, have ended the requirements that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty, and that companies with 50 or more employees provide coverage to their workers.
Republican senators have wanted for seven years to do away with Obamacare, the signature domestic legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. About 20 million Americans gained health care insurance under Obamacare. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in a study of the "skinny repeal" measure that 16 million Americans would lose their coverage and premiums would increase by 20 percent.
"Skinny repeal fell short because it fell short of our promise to repeal & replace Obamacare w/ meaningful reform," McCain wrote on Twitter. Later, he added, "I hope we can rely on humility, cooperation & dependence on each other to better serve the people who elected us."
Republican leaders saw the scaled-down bid as a way of honoring their campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. Conservative lawmakers want to gut as much as possible of Obamacare, while more moderate Republicans are worried that such changes could affect health insurance coverage for millions of poorer Americans.
"This is clearly a disappointing moment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time."
Earlier this week, Senate Republicans failed twice to overturn the ACA — either by repealing the law outright or repealing it and at the same time replacing it with a new version.
Of the two failed votes earlier in the week, nine Republicans first joined all the Democrats in rejecting a proposed replacement health care bill crafted by McConnell. The second effort called for outright repeal of Obamacare in two years' time, during which period Congress would be expected to agree on replacement legislation; that was rejected by a similar margin, with seven Republicans joining the unified Democratic minority bloc.