A few weeks ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shocked everyone by striding into the Senate chamber and loudly declaring a “NO!” vote on the Obamacare “skinny repeal” plan. It was a dramatic, post-midnight move that crushed the GOP’s hopes of landing successful health care legislation anytime soon — or ever? — and it seems that some senators haven’t been able to accept the possibility that McCain may have truly meant to vote how he did. In fact, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) did more than hint that McCain’s recent brain cancer diagnosis could explain his unexpected decision.
“We did get a call from Paul [Ryan], and he assured us that skinny repeal was not going to pass the House it would have to go to conference. Again, I’m not gonna speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in.”
This statement, of course, was greeted by an incredulous “really?” by a host, but Johnson persisted, and he didn’t fix anything:
“Again, I-I-I don’t know exactly what — we really thought — and again I don’t want speak for any senator. I really thought he was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30, he voted no. So you have talk to John in terms what was on his mind.”
It’s fair to assume that Johnson, while scrambling for excuses and not thinking about what he’s saying, is in a fair amount of denial. After all, the GOP trucked McCain back to Capitol Hill with the full expectation that he’d help them pass their hot congressional mess. Nope!
In the aftermath, Republicans in Congress have been the recipients of White House ire over their lack of progress in many departments — especially health care — on President Trump’s agenda. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on record to characterize Trump’s attitude and “excessive expectations” as “extremely irritating,” and the squabbling continues. As for Johnson, his remarks don’t present a good look. Not at all.
UPDATE: Through ABC News, a McCain spokesperson has unsurprisingly criticized Johnson’s “bizarre” assessment of McCain’s vote:
“It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend. Senator McCain has been very clear and open about the reasons for his vote.”