Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both said they were relieved to have one another’s support during the pivotal voting on health care.
“I will say that I was very happy that Lisa was literally sitting next to me as we were voting from our seats,” Ms. Collins, Maine Republican, said in a joint interview with Ms. Murkowski, Alaska Republican, that aired on CNN Friday.
The health care bill, which both senators voted against, ultimately failed to pass after Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, also voted against it. Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski were expected to vote against the bill, but Mr. McCain’s decision was a surprise to Senate Republicans.
“To have that weight, that responsibility, knowing that your vote really is that pivotal, it does help to know that there is another kindred soul close by,” Ms. Murkowski said.
She added that doing “the right thing” matters more than the consequences, including a tweet from President Trump.
“You want to vote to do the right thing, and so worrying about the consequences — are you fearful of the repercussion from your party, a tweet from president, a backlash from your leadership — I don’t believe that we should be motivated or discouraged from taking positions that are important to the people we represent in our respective states,” Ms. Murkowski said.
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When she was asked if she felt Mr. Trump threatened her in the phone call the two shared prior to the vote, the Alaska Republican demurred.
“I will just say the president and I had a very direct call,” Ms. Murkowski said.
Mr. Trump also tweeted at her after the vote saying she “really let the Republicans, and our country, down.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department has a major influence in places like Alaska, also called Ms. Murkowski. The two later had a beer in a photo posted on Twitter indicating there were no hard feelings.
Mr. Zinke is being investigated by his department’s inspector general, however, for whether he threatened Alaska’s economic well-being in the call, CNN reported.
“He was merely delivering a message,” Ms. Murkowski said, adding that she did not interpret the call as a threat.