John McCain's dramatic no vote on the skinny repeal on Friday morning may have garnered the most attention. But Twitter did its utter best to credit Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, the two Republicans who voted to kill the skinny repeal — and every other health care measure in the Senate this week. But their prominent roles in killing the Obamacare repeal effort means that Collins and Murkowski now face a fight with Republicans in Congress, as well as President Trump, having already confronted violent threats in the lead-up to the Friday vote.
The two GOP senators have been the lone figures standing against their party's repeated efforts to repeal Obamacare. They also expressed early on that they were against any health care bill that included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. And for their steadfast opposition, both women were openly threatened with physical violence by their male Republican colleagues.
On Monday, GOP congressman Blake Farenthold cited "female senators from the Northeast" (Collins represents Maine) as targets for an "Aaron Burr-style" gun duel. Days later, when asked about Murkowski in an on-air interview, Republican Rep. Buddy Carter replied: "Somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their *ss."
McCain came around. But it was Collins and Murkowski who had the guts throughout.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) July 28, 2017
After the collapse of the skinny repeal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a lengthy statement lamenting his "regret" of the defeat. McConnell also spoke on the Senate floor after the vote, and according to a description by Yahoo News reporter Liz Goodwin on Twitter, he made it clear his displeasure with Murkowski and McCain. "We told our constituents we would vote that way, and when the moment came, most of us" he said, reportedly shooting a look at Murkowski and McCain, "did."
Trump also tweeted that "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down" afterwards, and called for the Senate rules to change so that it wouldn't need a "senseless" 60-vote majority, but only 51.
It's unlikely that his tweets encompass all his thoughts on Friday's stunning Republican failure. Days before, the president named and shamed Murkowski on Twitter for voting against a repeal-and-replace bill. Dan Sullivan, Alaska's other senator, told the Alaska Dispatch News on Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was threatening Alaska's economic wellbeing over Murkowski's health care vote.
Murkowski and Collins did the same job as McCain, facing twice the hostility for half the credit— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) July 28, 2017
In his statement addressing the skinny repeal vote, Iowa Rep. Steve King singled out McCain and Murkowski, and challenged the latter's legitimacy as a lawmaker. "Murkowski is a Senator who was initially appointed to the position by her father, and whose 2010 write-in campaign was essentially a revolt against GOP primary voters," King's statement read.
Praise for Collins and Murkowski will continue to flood social media, but so will the threats to their jobs from their own colleagues. But as they withstood the insults and the browbeating from GOP members — and the president — in casting their decisive votes on Friday morning, it appears unlikely that the threats to come will deter them from going back to business as usual.