NTK Fact Check: Was Joe Donnelly the 'Deciding Vote' Against Obamacare Repeal? | NTK Network NTK Fact Check: Was Joe Donnelly the ‘Deciding Vote’ Against Obamacare Repeal?

NTK Fact Check: Was Joe Donnelly the ‘Deciding Vote’ Against Obamacare Repeal?

Donnelly called ObamaCare repeal efforts "utterly devastating" in the weeks and months leading up to the dramatic "skinny repeal" vote.

By NTK Staff | 10.09.2018 @9:15am
NTK Fact Check: Was Joe Donnelly the ‘Deciding Vote’ Against Obamacare Repeal?

THE CLAIM: “I was the deciding vote to make sure that that child in Lawrenceburg who has arthritis can get the Enbrel they need, even though they’re part of a single family, that medication that’s $2,000 a month, everybody gets a shot on my health care.”

CHECKING THE CLAIM: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) claimed, in a debate on Monday night in Indiana (around the 58-minute mark), that he “was the deciding vote” against ObamaCare repeal last year in Congress. It’s a dramatic claim, so NTK Network decided to look at the merits.

Donnelly is likely referring to a now-famous (or infamous) roll call vote in the Senate on July 28, 2017, at 1:24 in the morning. The vote was on a Mitch McConnell-sponsored amendment that was, effectively, a “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare.

The vote was 49-51, against “skinny repeal,” with three Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ) – siding with 46 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats.

Americans may know the moment from McCain’s ‘thumbs down’ on the Senate floor, which ended major ObamaCare repeal efforts in the upper chamber.

Given the vote was 49-51, a theoretical Donnelly ‘yea’ vote would have tipped ObamaCare repeal in favor of Republicans.

But no Democrats voted with 49 Republicans in favor of ObamaCare repeal. As for Donnelly, he was regularly opposed to ObamaCare repeal in the months and weeks leading up to this dramatic vote:

  • In January 2017, Donnelly announced he won’t support a “health care repeal” effort that would effect “2.5 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions”
  • After the initial failure of the House’s Obamacare repeal bill in March 2017, Donnelly said it was time to “work together to strengthen the Affordable Care Act”
  • In July 2017, Donnelly called McConnell’s ObamaCare repeal effort “downright reckless

Donnelly’s vote against ObamaCare repeal was not surprising, nor did it appear to be the subject of speculation.


Donnelly claims he was the “deciding vote” against ObamaCare repeal. But Donnelly was ‘decided’ – against ObamaCare repeal – for months leading up to the actual vote. His claim suggests that he, alone, is responsible for saving the health care of thousands of Hoosiers. Donnelly did not provide important context, though: that three Republican votes are what effectively killed the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal effort, and not Joe Donnelly.

Therefore, we rate the claim, Fake News.

NOTE: NTK Network’s Fact Check scale ranges from “Very Fake News,” for the most egregious false claims, to “Fake News,” “Mostly Fake News,” and, for claims that check out, “Mostly Real News” and “Real News.”

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