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McCain offers mixed criticism of House vote to repeal, replace Obamacare

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain of Ariz., left, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., listen to U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris Jr. as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2017, during the committee's hearing on North Korea. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

PHOENIX — Arizona Sen. John McCain praised House Republicans for advancing an Obamacare-replacement health care legislation on Thursday, but chastised the lawmakers for rushing the vote.

During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, McCain said he was “glad” to be moving forward after House Republicans advanced legislation for the American Health Care Act with a 217-213 vote.

“I’m glad that they got it done,” McCain said. “We are bicameral and I believe that the Senate should take it up, but we, obviously, have our responsibilities. There’s a lot of questions in including a state like mine, which is a Medicaid expansion state, but I’m glad we’re moving forward.”

The legislation includes cutting Medicaid for low-income people, eliminating tax penalties for people who don’t buy coverage, erasing tax increases for higher-earning people, blocking federal funding to Planned Parenthood, among other aspects.

It was voted on for a second time on Thursday, after the first attempt ended six weeks ago when Republican leadership pulled the legislation before a vote was held.

It was voted mostly along party lines, with 20 Republicans voting “No” and zero Democrats voting “Yes.” One Arizona Republican lawmaker, Rep. Andy Biggs, voted against the bill, saying he did so in part because he didn’t have time to read it.

But another Arizona House Republican, Rep. Trent Franks, said the bill was “designed to try to give [House Republicans] momentum in the Senate.”

In March, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the original health care bill would end coverage for 24 million people over a decade, but the office was not able to provide a new score before lawmakers voted on Thursday.

McCain chastised House Republicans for voting on the bill after a three-hour debate and without a CBO score, implying that the move was unacceptable.

“I don’t try to tell the House of Representatives how they should conduct themselves, but I know that’s not going to be acceptable here in the Senate,” McCain said. “I don’t always agree with CBO — in fact, quite frequently I disagree, but we should still have an assessment from them and that’s got to be part of the debate.”

Following Thursday’s vote, the bill now advances to the Senate.

According to Politico, Senate Republicans are planning to scrap the House’s legislation and write their own bill, one that McCain said he hopes will include coverage for pre-existing conditions.