McCain Defends Obamacare: "Respect Outcomes Of Elections"


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): I would like to make sure that my colleagues and especially those who were not here in 2009 understand that there are many of us who are opposed to Obamacare, as it's called, the Affordable Care Act, and the opposition that we mounted in 2009, it's a matter of record that, to start with, the Senate Finance Committee considered the Affordable Care Act over several weeks and approved the bill on October 13 of 2009.

At that time, members of the Finance Committee submitted 564 amendments, 135 amendments were considered, 79 roll call votes taken, 41 amendments were adopted. Then the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the Affordable Care Act by 13-10 after a month-long debate. 500 amendments were considered, more than 160 Republican amendments were accepted.

And then it came to the floor of the Senate, and the Affordable Care Act was on the floor for 25 straight days, including weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2009. 506 amendments were filed, 228 of which were Republican. 34 roll call votes were held. Most roll call votes resulted in party-line votes, including a motion which I had to commit the bill to the Finance Committee for a rewrite.

The final passage of the bill, because of our insistence in exercising every reasonable parliamentary procedure we could, took place on Christmas Eve of 2009, much to the discomfort of many of my colleagues. But we fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner, and we lost, and we lost, one of the reasons is because we were in the minority. And in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation. But I was extremely proud of the effort that we on this side of the aisle made to attempt to defeat what we thought was a measure that was not good for America. And it was an interesting debate and I think an educational one. We had a lot of -- I see my friend from Illinois here. On several occasions, he and I had basically debates on the floor of the Senate, which of course I won every one. But the fact is that this legislation was hard-fought, it was a legislative process, I didn't like the end of it, but I'm proud of the effort that we made and, frankly, the other side of the aisle allowed that debate to take place. And again, we finally finished up on December 24 of 2009 at 7:05 a.m.

So to somehow allege that many of us are not or haven't fought hard enough I think does not comport with the actual action that took place on the floor of the Senate. Now, many of those who in opposition right now were not here at the time, did not take part in that debate, and I respect that. But I'd like to remind them that the record is very clear of one of the most hard-fought, fair, in my view, debates that has taken place on the floor of the Senate that the time I've been here.

And then I'd remind my colleagues that in the 2012 election, Obamacare, as it's called -- and I'll be more polite, the ACA -- was a subject of -- that was a major issue in the campaign. I campaigned all over America for two months everywhere I could, and in every single campaign rally I said, "And we have to repeal and replace Obamacare." Well, the people spoke. They spoke, much to my dismay, but they spoke, and they re-elected the president of the United States.

Now, that doesn't mean that we give up our efforts to try to replace and repair Obamacare, but it does mean that elections have consequences, and those elections were clear in a significant majority that a majority of the American people supported the president of the United States and renewed his stewardship of this country. I don't like it. It's not something that I wanted the outcome to be, but I think all of us should respect the outcome of elections which reflects the will of the people.

So we just went through a -- a long, many-hour -- I can't call it a filibuster because a filibuster is intended to delay passage of legislation. There was no doubt that there was a time certain that time on the floor would have to expire. So, I guess the kind of depiction I can say was extended oratory that took place for many hours on the floor of the Senate, which is the right of any senator to do. I respect that right, and obviously the longevity of the discussion was something that was certainly admirable. But during the course of that discussion conducted by my friend from Texas, he said, "If you go back to the 1940s Nazi Germany, look, we saw in Britain Neville Chamberlain who told the British people, accept the Nazis, yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe, but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them." And then he went on to say, "I suspect those same pundits who say defunding Medicare, Obamacare can't be done, if it had been in the 1940s, we would have been listening to them; they would have been saying you cannot defeat the Germans."

I resoundingly reject that allegation. That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice -- a great disservice for those brave Americans and those who stood up and said, what's happening in Europe cannot stand. When the ship was turned back, and the passengers on that ship were sent directly to the gas chambers, when Czechoslovakia fell and the slaughter continued, there were many who raised their voices. And then there were those who went to war because of the barbaric and great threat to civilization and everything we stand for, amongst them were my father and grandfather. I do not agree with that comparison. I think it's wrong, and I think it's a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease and that we must act. And we did act. And it's a disservice to those who did act.

Now, I spoke to Sen. Cruz about my dissatisfaction about his use of this language, and he said he only intended it to be applied to pundits and not to members of the Senate. I find that a difference without a distinction. I find that something that I think I had to respond to. I do not begrudge Sen. Cruz or any other senator who wants to come and talk as long as they want to or as long as they can, depending on the rules of the Senate, but I do disagree strongly to allege that there are people today who are like those who, prior to World War II, didn't stand up and oppose the atrocities that were taking place in Europe. Because I have an open and honest disagreement with the process of not agreeing to move forward with legislation which I agree with, which was passed through the House of Representatives, and comparing it to those who appeased, who were the appeasers, as Sen. Cruz described them, is an inappropriate place for debate on the floor of the United States Senate.

Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives