- REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
- Republican Sen. John McCain is taking heat from critics, who say he flip flopped by voting for the GOP tax bill.
- In recent months McCain has called for bipartisanship and regular order in the Senate and, for years, has warned of the dangers of an expanding national debt.
- Critics, including McCain’s former campaign manager, say the GOP tax bill violated both of those principles.
Sen. John McCain is taking heat from critics who say he flip flopped on his positions on the national debt and the importance of regular order in the Senate by voting late last night in favor of the GOP’s tax bill.
McCain was adamant last July that the Senate abide by regular order in passing a bill that would have repealed and replaced Obamacare. After undergoing surgery for brain cancer last summer, McCain returned to Washington to vote against the GOP’s healthcare bill, which he criticized for its lack of bipartisan support and and for its rushed and secretive negotiation process.
“As I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body,” the Arizona senator told his Senate colleagues. “Let’s return to regular order … the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act.”
On Friday, Democrats requested more time to review the nearly 500-page bill, which they received just hours before the vote. They were denied the request, and the bill passed the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning, with a vote of 51 in favor to 49 against. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who will soon be retiring, was the lone Republican to vote against the bill, which garnered zero Democratic support.
Critics of the bill immediately pounced on several GOP senators, including McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Lindsay Graham, whose support for the effort had been lukewarm before they ultimately voted to pass it.
McCain drew particularly harsh criticism, in part for his apparent lack of concern for regular order in the passage of the bill, which included significant last-minute revisions.
He said in his statement Saturday that the Senate’s holding hearings about the tax bill was enough to please him.
“For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote,” McCain said.
“If John McCain even in the slightest way believed what he said about the regular order he would vote to take the weekend to read the bill,” tweeted Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
“Is this really the regular order John McCain demanded?” Ezra Klein, editor and founder of left-leaning Vox Media, tweeted.
Others called out the senator for his apparent disregard for the bill’s nearly $1.5 trillion projected expansion of the federal deficit. (McCain voted against former President George W. Bush’s tax cut plan over concerns about the legislation’s impact on the debt.)
“John McCain is a fraud who spent 8 years complaining about the deficit during the Obama presidency but voted for a Trump-backed #TaxScamBill that adds $1 trillion to the deficit in order to cut taxes for the rich,” the progressive CNN political commentator Keith Boykin tweeted.
McCain’s former presidential campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, called out all Republicans, including McCain, who voted for the bill, arguing that “everything everyone of them has ever said about spending was simply performance theater.”
“This tax bill demonstrates, once again, the total collapse of all and any rigor around the policy making process in the GOP congress,” Schmidt wrote. “It is built on a foundation of lies. It adds more than a trillion to the debt. No real conservative should vote for this.”