McCain’s floor speech

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

As the health care de­bate in Wash­ing­ton in­ten­si­fied late last month, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of­fered the sort of stir­ring po­lit­i­cal plea that seems lifted out of “The West Wing” or “Mr. Smith Goes to Wash­ing­ton.”

McCain re­turned to Wash­ing­ton on July 25 — fol­low­ing surgery to re­move a blood clot above his eye and the rev­e­la­tion that he has brain can­cer — to cast a de­ci­sive vote open­ing de­bate on a se­ries of mea­sures aim­ing to, in some way, shape or form, re­peal and re­place the Af­ford­able Care Act, com­monly re­ferred to as Oba­macare. Later that week, he voted against the re­peal and re­place bill. He even voted against the “skinny re­peal.”

Prior to his vote, McCain of­fered his thoughts on the in­ac­tion that he said has marked the U.S. Se­nate as of late.

He spoke about the “true states­men, giants of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics” he has known and ad­mired. He said though they came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and held dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies, they rec­og­nized their “obli­ga­tion to work col­lab­o­ra­tively to en­sure the Se­nate dis­charged its con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ef­fec­tively.”

“That prin­ci­pled mind­set, and the ser­vice of our pre­de­ces­sors who pos­sessed it, come to mind when I hear the Se­nate re­ferred to as the world’s great­est de­lib­er­a­tive body. I’m not sure we can claim that dis­tinc­tion with a straight face to­day,” said the once and fu­ture mav­er­ick of the Repub­li­can Party, while ac­cept­ing blame for his role, at times, in want­ing “to win more for the sake of win­ning than to achieve a con­tested pol­icy.”

Ul­ti­mately, the Repub­li­can-led ef­fort to dis­man­tle Oba­macare failed, with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mc­Connell (R-Ky.) say­ing it is “time to move on.” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who ap­par­ently did not lis­ten to McCain’s speech, con­tin­ued his bid to never take the high road. Rather, he rev­eled in the idea that his pol­i­tics will hurt peo­ple and then they will turn to him for help. On July 28, he tweeted, “3 Repub­li­cans and 48 Democrats let the Amer­i­can peo­ple down. As I said from the be­gin­ning, let Oba­maCare im­plode, then deal. Watch!”

McCain noted in his speech that the Se­nate has only one real ac­com­plish­ment this year, con­firm­ing Neil Gor­such to the U.S. Supreme Court. He then pointed to a more du­bi­ous achieve­ment for the GOP.

“Our health care in­sur­ance sys­tem is a mess. We all know it, those who sup­port Oba­macare and those who op­pose it. Some­thing has to be done. We Repub­li­cans have looked for a way to end it and re­place it with some­thing else with­out pay­ing a ter­ri­ble po­lit­i­cal price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve man­aged to do is make more pop­u­lar a pol­icy that wasn’t very pop­u­lar when we started try­ing to get rid of it,” McCain said.

We applaud McCain’s call for a “re­turn to reg­u­lar order” and end­ing the cy­cle of “try­ing to find a way to win with­out help from across the aisle.” He rightly up­braids both lead­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties for not seek­ing com­pro­mise, for the lack of “broad co­op­er­a­tion” that leads to “in­cre­men­tal progress” in ac­tu­ally ad­dress­ing is­sues.

And quit tak­ing cues from the pun­dits, he told his Se­nate col­leagues.

“I hope we can again rely on hu­mil­ity, on our need to co­op­er­ate, on our de­pen­dence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so do­ing bet­ter serve the peo­ple who elected us. Stop lis­ten­ing to the bom­bas­tic loud­mouths on the ra­dio and tele­vi­sion and the in­ter­net. To hell with them. They don’t want any­thing done for the pub­lic good. Our in­ca­pac­ity is their liveli­hood,” McCain said.

McCain called for the Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee to hold hear­ings and re­port out a bill “with con­tri­bu­tions from both sides.” That was sorely lack­ing from the failed GOP-led ef­fort of back-room meet­ings with only se­lect mem­bers.

Our na­tion is large and di­verse. For our gov­ern­ment to be suc­cess­ful, both sides of the aisle need to have mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion. And the voices of ru­ral res­i­dents must be given the weight of those in our ur­ban cen­ters. We applaud McCain for his ef­forts to re­mind his Se­nate col­leagues of this.

We hope this can lead to real im­prove­ments in our health care sys­tem, not just the po­lit­i­cal one-up­man­ship pushed by Trump, Mc­Connell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

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