Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, who lost his re-election bid last week to Democrat Angie Craig, said Monday in a Wall Street Journal opinion column that the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is responsible for GOP losses.
Lewis singled out McCain's vote against a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate on July 28, 2017, for voters' decision to return control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats.
"McCain's last-minute decision prompted a 'green wave' of liberal special-interest money, which was used to propagate false claims that the House plan 'gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions,' " Lewis wrote.
"That line of attack was the Democrats' most potent attack in the midterms. It was endlessly repeated by overt partisans in the media," he added.
He singled out reports, including one in the Star Tribune, that said Republicans wanted to change the law so that insurers could consider sexual assaults and pregnancy as pre-existing conditions.
Nothing in the Republicans' American Health Care Act, Lewis wrote, would have limited coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
McCain's vote was punctuated by a dramatic thumbs-down gesture, drawing gasps from Democratic senators. It was one of his final votes. He died Aug. 25 after battling a brain tumor. He was 81.
Lewis, a House freshman, lost to Craig in a rematch of their 2016 Second Congressional District race, 47 to 53 percent. During the campaign, he often spoke of his opposition to the ACA, which was enacted under former Democratic President Barack Obama.
Lewis also objected to the ACA's age-rating rule, which he said was "discriminating against the young."
His piece concluded with a reference to McCain's "grievance with all things Trump." The late senator frequently spoke of his disdain for President Donald Trump.
"This obsession on the part of 'Never Trump' Republicans has to end," the outgoing congressman wrote. "Disapprove of the president's style if you like, but don't sacrifice sound policy to pettiness."
On Twitter, McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, called Lewis's comments "abhorrent."