McCain Returns to Be Key Vote for GOP to Open Health Care Debate

McCain said he "will not vote for this bill as it exists today," despite his vote to move forward with debates on repealing Obama's health law

At the twilight of a storied career and battling a brain tumor, Sen. John McCain delivered for his party and his president on the issue that's defined the GOP for the past seven years.

It's a situation heavy with drama and symbolism. The 80-year-old Arizona senator returned to Washington just days after a cancer diagnosis, to cast the deciding vote to open debate on legislation to repeal and replace "Obamacare."

McCain has not been overly enthusiastic about the GOP health bill or the partisan process through which it's emerged. Following his vote to open the debate on health care, McCain delivered remarks, urging his colleagues to come together for the sake of the country. 

"The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America," he said. "This country needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations."

He also added he "will not vote for this bill as it exists today," despite his vote to move forward with debates on repealing Obama's health law. 

McCain also received praise from President Donald Trump following the vote Tuesday. Trump tweeted: ".@SenJohnMcCain-Thank you for coming to D.C. for such a vital vote. Congrats to all Rep. We can now deliver grt healthcare to all Americans!"

McCain himself campaigned heavily on the "Obamacare" repeal issue last year as he won re-election to a sixth and almost certainly final Senate term. Tuesday served as sweet revenge, undoing the signature legislation of the man who beat him for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama.

The situation was eerily reminiscent of a similar scenario involving McCain's good friend, the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who returned to the Senate in July 2008 while battling brain cancer to vote on Medicare legislation, his dramatic entry in the chamber eliciting cheers and applause. Kennedy died of cancer in August 2009 (the current Sen. Kennedy is no relation).

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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