The high stakes effort by Senate Republicans to pass an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill is coming to a head, and the beleaguered GOP needs all the help it can get. Holding a slim 52 to 48 majority in the Senate and facing a unified Democratic Party against dismantling Barack Obama’s “signature legislative achievement,” Republicans can’t afford to lose more than two votes, so all the key players on the right are ramping up the pressure to get this thing done.
Last week, Arizona Sen. John McCain revealed the heartbreaking news that he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, but he and his family made clear that he would not let this latest adversity slow him down. Less than a week later, the salty 80-year-old senator — a Vietnam war hero who survived captivity as a POW for five years under brutal circumstances — is back in D.C. ready to vote on the repeal and replacement bill. President Trump, who has been increasingly more vocal on the urgency of the vote, celebrated the news of McCain’s return.
On Monday night, McCain’s office issued a statement announcing that the Senator was returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” McCain’s office announced.
As AP notes, it’s unlikely that Republicans would ask the ailing Senator to fly from Arizona if they didn’t believe his vote would “make a difference,” and “his mere presence could make it harder for wavering Republicans to cast a vote against even considering the bill.”
President Trump cheered the news on Twitter, writing, “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.”
Meanwhile, the president is turning the screws on those “wavering Republicans.”
“Over and over again, [Republicans] said, ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ But they can now keep their promise,” Trump said Monday from the White House.
“After 7 years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!” Trump tweeted. “ObamaCare is torturing the American People. The Democrats have fooled the people long enough. Repeal or Repeal & Replace! I have pen in hand.”
The vote on the “Trumpcare” bill has already been postponed once, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling it off in part because of McCain’s health issue that led to the tragic cancer diagnosis, but also because of the continued pushback from several Republicans. The Senate bill is a revision of the House bill, which was passed in May amid similar division among Republicans. Conservative Republicans maintain that the Senate bill simply does not repeal enough of Obamacare, while more centrist Republicans fear that it will result in fewer Americans covered.
Should the Republicans manage to get only 50 votes in favor, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote.