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GOP senators who blocked Obamacare repeal call for cooperation with Democrats

  • Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski call for the Senate to return to regular order and seek cooperation on health care.
  • The three GOP senators voted to block their party's latest attempt to repeal Obamacare early Friday.

Three Republican senators who voted to block their party's latest Obamacare repeal plan called Friday for a bipartisan fix for insurance markets.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and John McCain, R-Ariz., said they still wanted to revamp the American health-care system to reduce costs and stabilize markets in pockets of the country. But they urged Senate leaders to take up an approach with both parties, rather than the Republican-only effort that characterized the various pushes to repeal or replace parts of the Affordable Care Act in recent weeks.

"Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, and we must work together to put together a bipartisan bill that fixes the flaws in the ACA and works for all Americans," Collins said, in a statement.

McCain, whose vote early Friday appeared to come as a surprise to GOP leaders, added that he wants the Senate to "return to regular order with input from all of our members — Republicans and Democrats — and bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for amendment and debate."

Murkowski, the third GOP senator who voted to sink the proposal by a 49-51 margin, said in a statement later Friday that she's still committed to reforming the Affordable Care Act, with a focus on reducing costs and boosting access to care.

"I stand ready to begin work with my colleagues – all of them – to reform healthcare in a more open process," she said.

Those three votes can block Republicans' hopes of passing any plan with a majority vote without Democratic support. They appear to have sworn off, at least for now, a GOP-only approach to replacing the landmark health-care law.

Collins and Murkowski voted earlier this week against even starting debate on options to repeal Obamacare. McCain supported that measure the day he returned to the Senate after getting diagnosed with brain cancer but early Friday helped to sink the plan that several Republican senators said they would only support under the condition that it would not become law.

The broader GOP willingness to cooperate on health-care with Democrats remains unclear.

After the vote Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it will be "interesting to see what [Democrats] suggest is the way forward."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then said he hoped it marked a moment that would encourage the Senate to work through its regular process.