Recovering From Brain Surgery, John McCain Cast the Deciding Vote in Advancing the Obamacare Repeal

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Today, the Senate passed a motion to proceed with their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Now the Republican health care plan will move into the floor debate phase, despite there still not being any details at all on the “replace” part. During today’s vote, there was a dramatic moment when Senator John McCain returned after a recent surgery to remove an aggressive brain tumor. He flew from Arizona to Washington D.C. just for this vote and received a standing ovation upon his arrival. He then proceeded to vote “yes” on the motion to strip millions of Americans of their health care. His was the tying vote, broken then by Mike Pence. The motion passed 51-50.

The circumstances of McCain’s return are pretty unbelievable.

Even more extraordinary: Following the vote, McCain spoke to his fellow senators about the devastating state of their current office. He urged his colleagues to reach across the aisle, to compromise, and to work together. He asked, “Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act? If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let’s return to regular order.”

He said of the health care debate, “The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.”

“We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration … asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t.”

He said that about the bill HE JUST VOTED TO ADVANCE.

Following the vote, there were a lot of people urging McCain’s critics to hold their tongues and not speak negatively of him, given his current health issues. To which everyone else replied:


McCain’s health issues do not give him a free pass to avoid condemnation. Not when he flew across the country to cast the deciding vote to advance a bill which would deprive tens of millions of people of their health care.

And his current fight with cancer certainly doesn’t erase his decades-long legacy.

There were plenty of people who hoped for more from McCain.

And he let us all down.

(image: screengrab)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.