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John McCain Returns To Washington To Help Move GOP Health Care Legislation Forward

It wasn’t the McCain many were hoping for.

Less than a week after revealing he has brain cancer, Sen. John McCain returned to Washington on Tuesday to cast a critical vote to move GOP-backed health care legislation forward. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska opposed the legislation as did the Senate’s Democrats and one Independent. McCain’s vote helped create a 50-50 tie in the Senate, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.


The next step for the Senate is to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, although there is no guarantee there will be enough votes to do so. It’s also not clear what the new legislation will include. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, a previous replacement plan, would have kicked over 20 million people off their health care according to the Congressional Budget Office. A Vox estimate shows that over 200,000 people would die due to its passage.

Many have been critical of the Senate for voting to proceed with a bill that doesn’t even exist. Especially one that would overhaul one-sixth of the American economy and have a huge impact on most Americans’ health. After casting his yes vote to proceed, McCain made a speech on the Senate floor, criticizing the Republican Party’s lack of transparency.

“We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition,” McCain said. “I don’t think that is going to work in the end.”

McCain also offered an explanation for why he voted to proceed with the non-existent legislation that could mean the difference between life or death for tens of thousands of Americans. “I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.”

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