During a sit-down interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) said they didn’t worry about the consequences of their votes against Republican senators’ health care plans, despite a direct public attack from the President.
“You want to vote to do the right thing. And so worrying about the consequences, are you fearful of repercussion from your party? A tweet from the President? A backlash from your leadership? I don’t believe that we should be motivated or discouraged from taking the positions that are important to the people that we represent in our respective states,” Murkowski said.
The two moderate Republicans have been called heroines and hypocrites for being the only Senate Republicans who opposed their party’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare from the get-go.
Among several issues they said they had with the bill, both felt they should protect their constituents from deep cuts to Medicaid expansion, which has helped fund opioid addiction treatment in both their respective states. They were also opposed to cuts to Planned Parenthood.
“The issue of family planning services, cancer screening, well women care probably does resonate with us more than with our male colleagues, and to me it was so unfair to single out one medicaid provider and say to women in particular you can’t choose which health care provider you want to go to,” Collins said.
Murkowski said that the second time Senate Republicans were invited to the White House to meet with the President about Obamacare repeal plans, she stood up to President Donald Trump, despite his attempts to intimidate her. Trump specifically singled her out in a tweet in July for voting against a motion to proceed, saying she “let Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!”
“It was a very directed appeal, that we need to come together as Republicans. I made a statement to the President with my colleagues and with his team there that ‘I’m not voting for the Republican Party. I’m voting for the people of Alaska,’” she said.
“And I remember being so proud of you for saying directly to the President what your obligations were,” Collins said.
The two said they took comfort in each other throughout the debate, with Murkowski saying it was nice to have “another kindred soul close by” during that final vote last week, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ultimately decided to vote against so-called “skinny repeal,” effectively killing the bill.
“(After the vote) we had one of those conversations that you’ll think of years down the road where (McCain) said people might not appreciate what has happened right now as a positive, maybe our colleagues aren’t viewing this as a positive right now, but the time will prove that having a pause, having a time-out for us to do better is going to be good for the country,” Murkowski said.
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