Speed Reads

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John McCain told Lisa Murkowski she 'did the right thing' with her no vote on health care

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was just one of two Republican senators to vote against the motion to proceed in Tuesday's health-care vote, joined by only Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) in dissent among the majority party.

Still, the motion to proceed was approved after Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to break a 50-50 tie — which was made possible only because of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) emotional return to Washington following a brain cancer diagnosis. McCain arrived in the chamber to cast his "aye" vote while offering a thumbs-up, but after the vote he gave a stirring speech condemning the back-room process that had birthed his party's health-care legislation in the first place.

Despite voting himself to approve the motion to proceed, however, McCain apparently approved of Murkowski's decision to dissent. In an interview Tuesday evening with Alaska Dispatch News, Murkowski said McCain told her, "You did the right thing," in a conversation after the vote. Murkowski said she had only decided to vote no during the Republican policy lunch immediately before the vote. "Believe me, I went back and forth," she said. "At the end of the day, the process really matters to me."

Murkowski offered similar comments in a statement Tuesday night, in which she said she voted against the motion to proceed to debate to "give the Senate another chance to take this to the committee process." Read more about her thoughts on the rocky health-care vote — "The tension was very real," she said — at Alaska Dispatch News.