Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of two Republicans to cast no votes on the Senate’s motion to proceed on the repeal of Obamacare on Tuesday. Alaska’s senior senator sat next to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who also cast a vote against the motion.
The two women were the only Republican no votes on the motion to proceed, which passed with 50 Republican votes, and opens debate on the bill. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to proceed with the bill.
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan voted in favor of the motion to proceed.
It’s still unclear just what version of the health care bill the Senate will move forward with. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been tight-lipped about plans, and it could range from a straight repeal to a replacement to something in between. Talk on Tuesday seemed to suggest it would be a “skinny repeal” that would only undo the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and perhaps repeal some taxes.
Under most versions of Obamacare repealed by the GOP, Alaska stands to lose the most with health insurance premiums spiking dramatically particularly for people on the individual marketplace. Alaska also stands to lose millions of dollars in coverage through cuts to Medicaid and the rollback of Medicaid expansion.
The Senate rules allow 20 hours of debate, which don’t have to be held consecutively, and amendments on the health care bill.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, returned from surgery and his recent brain cancer diagnosis to cast a critical vote in favor of the motion to proceed. In a fiery speech after the vote, McCain called for a bipartisan process and said he wouldn’t vote for the bill “as is it is today.” He said the bill must include recommendations from Arizona to gain his approval.
What level of legitimate, open and careful process that can be accomplished in the next 20 hours, however, is unclear.
Murkowski has generally avoided making any decisive statements on the GOP health care bill, but has voiced concerns about cuts to Medicaid funding and the rollback of Medicaid expansion. Murkowski also said that she would be a no vote on a motion to proceed with a straight repeal.