By Alexander Bolton
July 25, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in dramatic fashion, emerged on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to a standing ovation from his colleagues to cast the deciding vote to begin the healthcare debate.
McCain walked onto the floor through the chamber’s East door as Republican and Democratic colleagues stood to applaud his return to work after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week.
The 80-year-old lawmaker, looking pale and with a wan smile, waved to his colleagues and touched his left breast, over his heart, to acknowledge them.
He had a two- to three-inch scar over his left eye, where surgeons performed an emergency craniotomy over a week ago to remove a blood clot.
McCain then shook hands with Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before casting a crucial vote to begin debate on House-passed legislation repealing and replacing major parts of ObamaCare.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who worked closely with McCain on immigration legislation, was so touched by the moment that he hugged McCain — even though Democrats staunchly oppose the GOP healthcare reform effort.
McCain cast the 49th vote to advance the measure and was immediately followed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who cast the 50th vote to begin the floor debate.
Two Republicans voted against the motion to proceed — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — so McCain’s vote was crucial.
Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and approve the motion.
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