As reported in a recent article by Politico titled: "GOP split over fixing or gutting Obamacare as deadline looms," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was conflicted with which steps to take to legislate for or against Obamacare. It is otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the deadline is before September 30, when procedural requirements under the rules of reconciliation expire. As some Republicans took the lead to try and shore up insurers that are under the ACA, others tried to make a case for a block grant approach that would replace certain parts of the ACA they expect to repeal.

Getting McCain on board

Those senators, Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA) announced their block grant plan during a news conference last Wednesday.

The block grant approach was originally pitched by Sen. Lindsey Graham in July which had immediate support from Cassidy. The growing number of supporters behind the Graham-Cassidy effort felt that they had another shot at repealing the ACA. The group, which also included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), believed last week that John McCain (R-AZ) might also be on board to support the bill.

McCain was one the reason why the last skinny repeal bill effort failed to pass when he made dramatic thumbs down vote in front of McConnell on the Senate floor. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) expressed doubt that McCain would support Graham's block grant bill, saying that Sen. Alexander Lamar (R-TN) had already restored regular order in the Senate that McCain demanded in July, by working together with Democrats to fix Obamacare.

Murphy further questioned why McCain would vote for a block grant bill when the "regular order" that he wanted was literally playing out in front of him. Sen. Murphy said that it would make no sense for McCain to short-circuit a bill and undercut Alexander. Murphy was referring to the fact that the last attempts to repeal the bill were being rushed which McCain didn't like. This was also around the time that the Arizona senator's unexpected absence from the Senate impacted a scheduled vote.

McCain supports bipartisanship

The Arizona senator required emergency surgery back in July which turned out be a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. McCain would return to Congress to have the vote but not before he made a statement asking for bipartisanship. Given those events, the vote for the then-"skinny repeal" bill was seen by many, especially McCain, as rushed. Senate Republicans wanting to go for another shot at their repeal effort are also under pressure from the Trump administration which cares little to nothing about congressional legislation and just wants a "win".

Those lawmakers believe they might have a chance with their repeal bill as soon as the Senate passes a defense bill before their end-of-month window closes. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has already said: "I don't see it" when talking about the chances of the block grant bill passing. It would appear that Sen. Murphy might have read McCain correctly, as Sen. McCain was on Face the Nation on Sunday where he said he would not support the Graham-Cassidy bill, preferring bipartisanship. In a recent interview on Fox News last Wednesday, Sen. Graham said that his block grant proposal was the last and best hope to repeal Obamacare.

Last week, McConnell asked the Congressional Budget Office to score Graham's bill which would be acceptable to McCain if there was more time before the deadline. An obvious similarity with Murphy's suggestion is that McCain might very well consider this new effort also rushed.

Here is McCain's interview with Face the Nation. He starts talking about bipartisanship at 5:57.