Senator John McCain was present on the Senate floor Tuesday to cast his vote in favor of debating the GOP health care bill — mere days after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
The Republicans’ procedural vote to continue the debate of the American Health Care Act of 2017 would have been in jeopardy without McCain’s yes vote. But on Monday night, McCain shot off a tweet saying he would be back in Washington on Tuesday to “continue to work on health care reform.”
When McCain returned to the floor, shortly after getting off a plane from Arizona, he received a standing ovation from his colleagues in the chamber. Both sides of the aisle stood and applauded for just under a minute while McCain shook hands with and hugged his fellow senators. At one moment, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer moved from behind his desk to hug McCain.
McCain voted ‘yes’ to proceed to debates of the health care bill. After the vote, he spoke on the floor for the first time since his diagnosis — sporting a dark line of stitches stretched over his left eye, marking where surgeons had worked to remove a blood clot above his left eye. He spoke about the importance of reaching across the aisle to make progress in governing, saying, “Let’s drop the question who shot first.” Later he stated, “Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the television, the radio and the internet. To hell with them — they don’t want anything done for the public good.”
McCain also stated that he will not vote for the bill as-is, saying, “It’s a shell of a bill right now; we all know that.” He also criticized the Senate, saying, “We’re getting nothing done my friends. We’re getting nothing done.”
President Trump has had a rough relationship with the six-term Arizona senator. In July of 2015, he famously said, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” McCain has been critical of Trump’s treatment of Russia and the firing of James Comey. But on Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.”