Gasps as well as some clapping and cheers can be heard in footage from the Senate floor of McCain giving a thumbs down gesture when casting his vote on President Donald Trump’s Health Care Freedom Act - a revised health care package of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, set up by his predecessor Barack Obama.
McCain, who only returned to Washington a few days earlier after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week, tweeted shortly after explaining some of the reasoning behind his critical choice.
His ‘no’ vote, which he stuck to despite heavy but unsuccessful lobbying from Vice President Mike Pence, has earned the “maverick” wide praise on social media.
Friday’s so-called ‘skinny bill’ was the latest healthcare scheme quickly put together by Senate Republicans after a broader bill for Obamacare repeal was voted down by 43-57 a few days earlier on Tuesday.
McCain’s decision to vote against the skinny bill perhaps comes as even more of a shock because of his vote in favour of the broader one 72 hours prior. In his statement explaining his latest vote, he said: “One of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress.”
But fellow Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who also voted against and helped tip the vote 49-51, were consistent with their ‘no’ votes throughout which has earned them equally strong praise online - including from Obama’s former speechwriter Jon Favreau.
US President Donald Trump - who has positioned repealing and replacing Obamacare at the heart of his election campaign and legislative agenda - tweeted to say that they had “let the American people down”.
One slightly older tweet of his, in which he thanks McCain for coming back to Washington and calls him an “American hero”, is now come back to haunt him.
Many people are making sure it’s at the top of everyone’s feeds by retweeting it today.
Despite the huge and embarrassing blow, he has been receiving very little sympathy online.
GOP leaders put forward the slimmed down bill with the intention of it not actually becoming law, but with the belief that it should pass through the Senate and allow negotiations to begin.
But obviously, that hasn’t quite worked out.