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McCain, Collins calls for bipartisan health care bill after blocking Obamacare repeal


Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with reporters before a lunch in the Capitol on July 27, 2017.

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with reporters before a lunch in the Capitol on July 27, 2017.

Two Republican senators who voted to block their party’s latest Obamacare repeal plan called Friday for a bipartisan fix for insurance markets.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and John McCain, R-Ariz., said they still wanted to revamp the American health-care system to reduce costs and stabilize markets in pockets of the country. But they urged Senate leaders to take up an approach with both parties, rather than the Republican-only effort that characterized the various pushes to repeal or replace parts of the Affordable Care Act in recent weeks.

“Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, and we must work together to put together a bipartisan bill that fixes the flaws in the ACA and works for all Americans,” Collins said, in a statement.

McCain, whose vote early Friday appeared to come as a surprise to GOP leaders, added that he wants the Senate to “return to regular order with input from all of our members — Republicans and Democrats — and bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for amendment and debate.”

The third GOP senator who voted to sink the proposal by a 49-51 margin, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has also previously called for bipartisan cooperation on fixes to the insurance market. While she did not explicitly use that language in comments to NBC News early Friday, she said the Senate needs to “regroup,” “come together” and “move forward with a committee process.”

Those three votes can block Republicans’ hopes of passing any plan with a majority vote without Democratic support. They appear to have sworn off, at least for now, a GOP-only approach to replacing the landmark health-care law.

Collins and Murkowski voted earlier this week against even starting debate on options to repeal Obamacare. McCain supported that measure the day he returned to the Senate after getting diagnosed with brain cancer but early Friday helped to sink the plan that several Republican senators said they would only support under the condition that it would not become law.

The broader GOP willingness to cooperate on health-care with Democrats remains unclear.

After the vote Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it will be “interesting to see what [Democrats] suggest is the way forward.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then said he hoped it marked a moment that would encourage the Senate to work through its regular process.

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