McConnell delays Senate health care vote while John McCain recovers from surgery

As McCain recovers from surgery, the Senate Majority Leader delayed action after losing a crucial vote

Published July 16, 2017 11:17AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., announced on Saturday night that he would delay the votes on the Republican health care bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act following the recovery of Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., who had a blood clot removed above his left eye, according to multiple news reports.

McCain underwent the procedure on Friday night, and announced on Saturday that he would not be in the Senate this week, which strips the Republicans of a much needed vote for the legislation.

McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wished McCain a speedy and healthy recovery, The Hill reported. "While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act," McConnell said.

The health care proposal was supposed to be debated and voted on this week "using special fast-track procedures," the New York Times reported. But the Republicans must obtain at least 50 votes to pass their legislation, at which point Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie. Sens. Rand Paul R-Ky., and Susan Collins R-Maine., have already stated their opposition to the bill. Even though McCain criticized the bill and the secretive nature of its drafting last week, his vote is nonetheless necessary in order for Republicans to pass their first major legislative achievement since taking full control of Congress in January.

The New York Times elaborated:

When Senate Republican leaders unveiled a revised version of their health care bill on Thursday, Mr. McCain said it did not include the measures he had been seeking to protect the people of Arizona and newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries, in particular.

Tens of thousands of people in Arizona have gained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Mr. McCain was planning to propose amendments to the bill to protect his constituents.

What's still unclear is how many Republicans will support the bill, and when the vote will take place, but an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office is expected on Monday. In the past at least six Senate Republicans have voiced opposition to the bill.

By Charlie May

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Affordable Care Act Repeal Better Care Act Health Care Mitch Mcconnell Republicans Senate