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Sen. Graham: We'll 'Press on,' 'Try to Have a Better Process'

Image: Sen. Graham: We'll 'Press on,' 'Try to Have a Better Process'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

By    |   Monday, 25 Sep 2017 11:15 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., promised Monday night to "press on" with efforts to pass what appears to be a doomed Obamacare replacement bill, saying if the legislation fails this time, "we'll try to have a better process."

In a televised debate on CNN, Graham and fellow Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — co-authors of a bill to use Obamacare spending to fund block grants to states — faced off against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The GOP bill suffered what could be a death blow earlier Monday when Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins joined Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky in deciding to vote "no" on the measure if it comes up in the Senate this week.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can only afford to lose two Republican votes to pass the legislation.

"We are going to press on," Graham said. "It's OK to vote. It's OK to fall short, if you do, for an idea that you believe in."

Sanders used the debate to press for support for his proposal for a single-payer plan – Medicaid for all – while Klobuchar advocated for bipartisan talks on healthcare, warning the GOP plan "passes the buck to the states but doesn't give them the bucks to cover people."

What all participants agreed upon was the President Donald Trump's tweet during the debate was wrong.

In the tweet, Trump critiqued McCain for his opposition, posting a video of the times McCain vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare, writing, "My oh my has he changed-complete turn from years of talk!"

Graham defended his longtime friend.

"He's one of my dearest friends," he began. "John McCain can do whatever damn well he wants to. He has that right. John said he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He's voted in 2015 to repeal Obamacare through the same process. He also says that we want to have a bipartisan solution. . . .

"Sen. McCain has talked about a better process," he added. "John, if you're listening, if we fall short, we'll try to have a better process. Nobody respects you more than I do. So to any American who has got a problem with John McCain's vote, all I can tell you is that John McCain was willing to die for this country, and he can vote any way he wants to and it doesn't matter to me."

There was little else the Democratic pair agreed on with the GOP bill sponsors, except, as Cassidy noted: "Everybody on this stage thinks the current system is broken."

But the Democrats repeatedly brought up the Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday that showed the GOP bill would take healthcare away from millions, though it would reduce the budget deficit by at least $133 billion.

In one of the more poignant questions from the audience, one woman related how she was aided in her opioid addiction, but wondered if that would be covered in a new GOP plan.

"In March 2015 I lost custody of my son and then, three months later on June 11, I woke up to find my husband dead next to me," the New Hampshire woman said. "Lifeless from an overdose. My addiction was so strong and so sick that not even his death or losing our beautiful son were enough to get me to stop using. I ended in jail and eventually got treatment through New Hampshire's drug court program which was 100 percent paid for by Medicaid expansion."

"Number one, congratulations on overcoming something that is just incredible," Graham answered. "We're all one pill away. . . . But it's not Medicaid expansion that saved you. It was somebody who knew what they were doing who walked you through how to get better."

"I want to make sure that Medicaid is sustainable and affordable," he added.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., promised Monday night to "press on" with efforts to pass what appears to be a doomed Obamacare replacement bill, saying if the legislation fails this time, "we'll try to have a better process."
lindsey graham, obamacare, repeal and replace, bernie sanders
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2017-15-25
Monday, 25 Sep 2017 11:15 PM
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