Politics & Government

Sen. McCain will return to Senate Tuesday ahead of health care showdown

U.S. Sen. John McCain will return to the Senate Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. John McCain will return to the Senate Tuesday. AP

Less than a week after announcing he has brain cancer, Sen. John McCain will return to the Senate as Republicans prepare to vote on Obamacare repeal and replacement.

The 80-year-old Arizona senator will be back on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“Senator McCain 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’s office said in a statement released Monday night.

McCain’s absence put the future of the GOP effort to pass a new health care bill in jeopardy because the party cannot afford to lose votes. It needs 50 — Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie — to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with new health care legislation under Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., postponed an earlier vote on the health care bill due to McCain’s absence from Washington for surgery to remove a blood clot near his eye. After that procedure, McCain’s office announced he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer. McCain and his family said they were evaluating treatment options. Prior to Monday’s announcement he would be back on the Hill, it was unclear how long McCain would be away from Washington.

McCain, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war, has been elected to the Senate six times. He is well respected in Washington and there was a bipartisan outpouring of support for him following the announcement last week of his diagnosis. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts died of glioblastoma, the survival rate of which the American Cancer Society puts at about 4 percent for people over age 55.

After several other efforts and several iterations of the legislation, McConnell is expected to tomorrow call for a vote on bringing the GOP health care bill to the floor to begin debate. He has been unable to unite his conference behind a bill to replace former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. Some Republicans oppose any effort to take health care away from constituents who gained it under Obamacare, while others oppose a bill they say gives the government too much control over people’s health care.

While announcing new bipartisan immigration legislation, Sen. Lindsey Graham discussed his friend Sen. John McCain's passion for "Dreamers" and how he passed his desire to pass immigration reform on to the South Carolina senator.