WASHINGTON, July 24, 2017 — Senator John McCain announced that he is returning to Washington D.C. to vote on starting the debate on Obamacare repeal. McCain’s return comes as he is battling brain cancer. McCain’s staff released a statement on Monday saying he “looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.”
McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer. McCain’s decision to return to Capitol Hill was a surprise to many in Washington, who expected him to miss the critical vote. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, said they were working to get approval from McCain’s doctors but thought it was unlikely he would make it.
McCain’s vote is expected to get GOP leadership closer to beginning debate on the healthcare legislation. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is still working to corral up the 50 votes needed to proceed. McConnell blasted Republicans who opposed a key vote to advance debate on the repeal, saying they are effectively endorsing the health care law.
Senate Republicans still haven’t been told exactly what kind of reform they will ultimately be voting on, creating even more uncertainty about the ability of getting a majority of Republicans needed on-board to proceed. Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Mitch McConnell telling him “it’s time to vote.”
The hunt for 50 votes continues to be a battle, even with McCain’s return. Both Sen. Susan Collins and Rand Paul have appeared to be strongly against the bill and don’t appear to be budging at all. With McCain’s return McConnell can afford to lose two Republican senators and have Vice President Mike Pence break the tie. McCain’s office had been silent on when the Senator would return.
While McCain travels back to D.C., he still faces a grave diagnosis from his doctors. Most patients with the type of brain tumor that Senator McCain had, survive around 14 months, with treatment. Because of that McCain’s vote is expected to be a very closely watched moment.