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McCain Returns To Vote For Debate On Health Care Bill

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Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona returned to the Senate July 25 to cast a crucial vote in favor of debating the Republicans' health care reform bill.

The Arizona senator was recovering from surgery after revealing recently that he has brain cancer, USA Today reported.

McCain's vote proved decisive, because two Republicans voted against starting debate on the bill. That meant Vice President Mike Pence was forced to break the 50-50 tie.

However, McCain is not in favor of the current bill.

"I will not vote for this bill as it is today," said McCain, according to USA Today. "And if it fails, which seems likely, the Senate should go back to the drawing board, with hearings, markups, and consultation with Democrats -- all things that have thus far been lacking."

He attacked the Republicans' efforts at repealing Obamacare.

"All we've managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn't very popular when we started trying to get rid of it," he added.

He appealed for bipartisan cooperation to craft a new health care policy.

"Let's trust each other," McCain said. "We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle."

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McCain received a standing ovation when he arrived at the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, praised him, as did President Donald Trump in a tweet.

Several skeptical Republicans ultimately decided to back opening debate on the bill, including Dean Heller, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito and Rand Paul.

"I'm very happy to announce that with zero of the Democrats' votes, the motion to proceed on health care has moved past and now we move forward toward truly great health care for the American people," Trump added at a White House news conference, according to CNN. "We look forward to that. This was a big step."

Not everyone was satisfied with McCain's performance and the outcome of the vote more generally.

"After brain surgery paid for by taxpayers, [Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona] will vote to take away healthcare from 22 million Americans," John Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition, which describes itself as an anti-Trump organization, wrote on Twitter, USA Today reported.

As the vote began, protesters in the Senate gallery shouted "kill the bill" and "shame, shame, shame."

A day prior to the vote, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont described the GOP health care bill as the "cruelest, most destructive and irresponsible piece of legislation ever brought to the U.S. he modern history of this country."

Sources: USA Today, CNN / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2), U.S. Embassy Canada/Flickr

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