Most GOP senators skip July 4 celebrations amid health-care bill backlash

Sen. Mitch McConnell skipped July 4 celebrations
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Only a handful of Republican senators made public appearances on the Fourth of July, and almost all of those who did march in Independence Day parades or appear at public celebrations had opposed the Senate GOP health-care bill. Negotiations among Republicans are ongoing during the July 4 break, and the Senate could vote on a modified bill as early as next week, if the Congressional Budget Office releases a new cost/benefit analysis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who scrapped a planned vote last week after a handful of Republicans threatened to block the bill, had wanted a vote before the break in part so GOP senators would not be swayed by public sentiment against his widely unpopular bill. Only four of the 52 GOP senators announced participation in July 4 parades — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Dean Heller (Nev.), and Ted Cruz (Texas) — and all but Cruz marched in remote locations; all four had voiced concern about McConnell's bill, and all but Murkowski were solid no votes before the break.

"Never before, in the 15 times that I've marched in this parade, have I had people so focused on a single issue," Collins told The New York Times while marching in the July 4 parade in Eastport, on a small island close to Canada. "I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health-care bills," she told The Washington Post. "People were thanking me, over and over again. 'Thank you, Susan!' 'Stay strong, Susan!'" Murkowski, parading in Wrangell, Alaska, said that most of the people who spoke to her at the festivities did not indicate "for or against" the bill. "They just say, 'Make sure you're taking care of our interests,'" she said. "In fairness for those that do the 'for or against,' everybody is pretty much [saying] they don't think this is good for us."

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Heller rode on horseback through Ely, Nevada, a Republican stronghold, while Cruz faced off against protesters and mingled with supporters in heavily Democratic McAllen, Texas. The rest of the Senate GOP caucus laid low, like McConnell, or opted to join a delegation to Afghanistan. "The relative scarceness of the senators," The Washington Post notes, "challenged the busy liberal 'resistance' movement." McConnell's next big deadline for a health-care vote is the monthlong August recess. He can lose no more than two senators.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.