There’s no denying that Arizona senator John McCain’s dramatic 11th hour “no” vote Thursday against repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act helped save insurance for millions of Americans in desperate need of it. But McCain — who returned to the Senate floor just this Tuesday following a brain cancer diagnosis and cast a disappointing vote in favor of opening up discussion to repeal Obamacare — did not swoop in and save the day alone.
Throughout the torturous repeal process, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine broke with the Republican party line and voted against repealing lifesaving health care for millions of Americans. Yet, many of the the headlines regarding Thursday’s vote singled out McCain as the lifesaver, illustrating that even women in Congress can be denied credit for their accomplishments when a man steps in at the last minute. That’s an experience many women can relate to.
Giving McCain the credit for defeating this repeal when female Senators Murkowski & Collins were early NOs is EVERY WORK MEETING EVER.
— Jenny Yang(@jennyyangtv) July 28, 2017
Indeed, Collins and Murkowski needed another vote to join 48 Democrats in stopping what was dubbed as “Skinny Repeal,” but McCain didn’t save ACA alone, and the two GOP female senators have faced slings, arrows, and misogyny throughout the process. Last week Senator Blake Farenthold, angry with Murkowski, Collins, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia for saying they would not repeal ACA, made the outrageous and misogynistic assertion that if they were men he would challenge them to duel.
Following Tuesday’s vote, Trump attempted to shame/bully Murkowski with a Tweet for the entire world to see, opening the door for others to pile on and intimidate.
Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Supporting Trump in his decision to air his dirty laundry with Murkowski in 140-characters or less, GOP Senator Buddy Carter of Georgia said, "Let me tell you, somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass,” meaning that someone should go hit Murkowski. Colorful colloquialism aside, Farenthold and Carter both invoked violent imagery to depict how they would handle the women who dared stand up to the GOP’s attempt to wrest Americans from their health care.
As Trump and fellow GOP senators attacked her, Murkowski remained steadfast saying, "Every day shouldn't be about winning elections." She added, “How about just doing a little bit of governing around here? That's what I'm here for."
Her response came two days before McCain released a statement explaining his reasons for voting no on “Skinny Repeal,” and they were surprisingly in line with what Murkowski had been fighting for all along:
“We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
So while Collins and Murkowski faced barely veiled threats in the form of violence from their male “colleagues,” McCain stepped in and got the credit for the groundwork they set down.
Here’s a smattering of responses to the phenomenon from Twitter.
Collins & Murkowski are Republicans too. Also there is this BS toxicity they have to deal with. Wake up, please. https://t.co/uDCbPAN5lx
— Zola Zappa (@ZolaZappa) July 28, 2017
(If I may) The point is that Murkowski & Collins' votes just as important- even more important since they were 1st to go against party...
— KB (@sorrykb) July 28, 2017
— Patrick Fisackerly (@fisackerly) July 28, 2017
If all the think pieces this morning were about changing his mind and not McCain as the "moral check" on the GOP, that would be fine.
— Celeste Headlee (@CelesteHeadlee) July 28, 2017
— Devon O'Hara (@DevonOhara) July 28, 2017
— Craig Cox (@craigcox1) July 28, 2017
It really, really is. And you know Trump will come after them the nastiest. But McCain will get all the headlines.
— Mariam Watt (@MariamWatt) July 28, 2017
Let's give credit to him FOR FOLLOWING THE LEAD OF STRONG WOMEN!
— Mary Taylor (@MsMaryRuthie) July 28, 2017
Ugh truth- it's like watching men get medals for doing one chore after a woman cleans the whole house every time.
— Calypso (@calypsocodes) July 28, 2017
— Renee S (@ashamedtotwt) July 28, 2017