Speaking from the Senate floor on Tuesday, John McCain criticized lawmakers for their failure to get things done, and called on his colleagues to work hard to reach comprises.
McCain's comments came after the Senate voted to debate their health care reform bill on Tuesday. McCain, who last week announced that he has brain cancer, returned from Arizona, where he was recovering, to vote in favor of debating the bill.
Though McCain voted to allow debate on the health care bill, he said during his comments that he would not ultimately vote to pass the "bill as it is today."
"It's a shell of a bill right now," he said. "We all know that."
McCain went onto say that lawmakers should "pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide solutions for problems Americans are struggling with today."
The comments were among McCain's many calls in his speech for greater compromise. He described the Senate's responsibilities as "vitally important," and said the "work we do is important." He also said that the responsibilities of the Senate are "more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliation," but repeatedly said that "we're getting nothing done."
"Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour," McCain said. "We are an important check on the powers of the executive."
He added: "Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal."
The senator — who will return to Arizona to recover from recent surgery for his cancer — also criticized the process used to pass Obamacare, as well as the tactics President Trump and congressional Republicans have used to pass their own health care bill. He added that if the process used to pass the bill "ends in failure, which seems likely, then let's return to regular order."
"The administration and congressional Democrats shouldn't have forced through Congress, without any opposition support, a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare," McCain said." And we shouldn't do the same with ours."
McCain also said that senators have a responsibility to preserve the system that made the US the most powerful country in the world, even when doing so "requires us to do something less satisfying than winning, even when we must give a little to get a little."
"Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet," the Arizona senator told his colleagues. "To hell with them. They don't want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. Let's trust each other."
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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