WASHINGTON -- Georgia's two Republican U.S. Senators, David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, voted in the wee hours of the morning on Friday to back a scaled-back plan to repeal parts of Obamacare, but their support was not enough to save the GOP's eleventh-hour gambit, which was narrowly rejected 49-51.
The dramatic vote came shortly before 2 a.m. -- with Perdue presiding over the chamber, no less -- and only a few hours after Republican leaders revealed the text of their so-called "skinny" repeal bill. The plan would have left some key aspects of the 2010 health care law in place but scrapped the central individual and employer mandates. Republicans John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined every Democrat to reject the proposal.
The fate of the GOP's years-long campaign promise to replace Obamacare is now in limbo after Senate Republicans spurned the party's other major health care proposals in recent days.
"Yes, this is a disappointment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "A disappointment indeed ... I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time."
The hope on Thursday was that the scaled-down "skinny" bill could secure the minimum 50 votes on the promise that the Senate could then negotiate its differences with the House. But several GOP lawmakers, including McCain and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, wanted ironclad guarantees from House leaders that the chamber wouldn't just pass the slimmed-down legislation outright, making the proposal law.
In a statement released just after 3:30 a.m., Perdue expressed his frustration's with the vote's outcome.
“Throughout this entire process, we have witnessed everything that’s wrong with Washington," he said. "The Senate had a real opportunity to dismantle the most damaging parts of Obamacare. As Republicans have railed against the failures of Obamacare for the last seven years, Democrats have failed to acknowledge any shortcomings of Obamacare and refused to try to fix a broken system."
“Now, due to an unworkable budget process and politicians who put their political self-interests ahead of national interest, Obamacare remains the law of the land," said Perdue, who visibly bowed his head as McCain cast his vote against the bill.