Former Republican U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl was selected Tuesday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to replace the late Sen. John McCain in the U.S. Senate.
Kyl said in a statement that he could play a role in critical matters under consideration in the Senate, such as judicial nominees. “There is much-unfinished business, including confirmation of President Trump’s nominees for judicial and executive branch positions, and I look forward to getting to work on behalf of my fellow Arizonans.”
Kyl was selected to shepherd Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, through the confirmation process. It’s a fact noted by Ducey’s office in a press release announcing Kyl’s appointment. “Over the last few months, Senator Kyl has been working closely with the White House on the Senate confirmation of the President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh,” the announcement said. “Now, Senator Kyl can cast a vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
The announcement comes amid protests at Kavanaugh’s Capitol Hill nomination hearings and fears that the judge will be the final vote to dismantle the Court’s landmark abortion rights decision on Roe v. Wade. Kyl addressed justices’ stance on that case during Sam Alito’s nomination hearing in 2006, in which he said he “would defend [Alito’s] right to decline to say in advance how [he] would rule on matters that could come before” him, such as that case.
Kyl, who retired from the Senate in 2013, in 2011 made the false claim that “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does” is related to abortion care, though in truth the procedure makes up about 3 percent of its services. His office later released a statement suggesting Kyl’s claim was “not intended to be a factual statement,” sparking a social media firestorm after comedian Stephen Colbert jumped into the matter on Twitter with a list of statements about Kyl using the hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement.
The false claim was later stricken from the congressional record.
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Protect Our Care, a coalition of groups organizing in opposition to the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), denounced Kyl as McCain’s replacement, noting the Republican’s record on the health-care law and that he has lobbied for the pharmaceutical industry. “By naming a Big Pharma lobbyist who repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and has continued to call for its repeal since his retirement to serve the remainder of Sen. McCain’s term, Gov. Ducey has assured we will have yet another senator whose priorities lie with insurance and drug companies, not the health and well-being of the American people,” Brad Woodhouse, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement.
McCain in July 2017 cast a historic vote against a Republican-led effort to repeal the ACA—providing the third GOP vote needed to sink the “skinny repeal” bill, which would have gutted key provisions of the health-care reform law.
During deliberations over health-care reform in 2009, Kyl suggested in defense of an amendment he offered that, according to HuffPost, “struck language from the bill defining which benefits employers are required to cover,” that maternity care should not be included. “I don’t need maternity care,” he said. “So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”
Kyl “will serve through at least the second session of the 115th Congress, concluding this year,” according to Ducey’s office.