McCain: State-Specific Buy-Offs In Obamacare Repeal ‘Unsavory’

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, amid a last-ditch GOP push to overhaul the nation's health care system. Looking at the twilight of his career and a grim cancer diagnosis, McCain, who prides himself on an independent streak, could not be moved to go along with the Graham-Cassidy bill.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) isn’t thrilled with how his close friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and others are trying to tweak their Obamacare repeal bill to buy off skeptical senators like him with more money for their states.

“It seems the bazaar is open, and that’s not the way to legislate. That flies in the face of everything I’ve been talking about and arguing for. ‘What would it take to get that vote — $10 billion, $15 billion?’ I mean, it’s unsavory,” McCain told TPM when asked about the changes to the bill Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are pushing that would give more money to states like Alaska and Kentucky that are home to key swing votes on the bill.

McCain all but killed the bill when he announced his opposition on Friday, forcing those trying to win over reluctant supporters to try to buy off senators with big handouts for their states.

His comments were rather similar to what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another no vote and a senator McCain has long sparred with, had to say about the bill earlier in the afternoon (Paul called the buy-offs “unseemly”).

He laughed when TPM said that was the closest he’d sounded to Paul in a long time.

“Well, if you live long enough,” he said with a grin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.
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