With Republican Sen. John McCain making a dramatic return to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the Senate is preparing to vote on a proposal that could begin — or end — the GOP’s seven-year quest to dismantle Obamacare.
The 80-year-old McCain has been home in Arizona since last week when he started treatment for a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma. In a statement, the respected six-term lawmaker said he “looks forward” to returning to work on health care legislation and other matters.
The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to use as a template a health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representative in May. That House bill, which would make substantial cuts to Medicaid, the government-run insurance program for low-income Americans, is unpopular with many Americans and even President Donald Trump has called it “mean.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate would make significant changes to the House bill. The Senate vote Tuesday is largely a procedural one. It would not make changes to Obamacare, but would allow lawmakers to begin the process of potentially repealing and replacing the controversial health reform plan signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Because Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, they can only lose two votes because Vice President Mike Pence would serve as the tiebreaker. All 48 Democrats oppose the GOP overhaul plan.
That’s why McCain’s vote could prove pivotal.
The Republican leadership expects McCain to vote “yes” Tuesday. And just his unexpected presence could make it more difficult for some Republicans to vote against even considering the procedural bill, the Associated Press reported.
At least a dozen GOP senators have said they oppose or are critical of McConnell’s proposed repeal-and-replace legislation. Conservatives like Rand Paul (R-Ky.) say it doesn’t go far enough to dismantle Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, moderate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine oppose the suggested steep cuts to Medicaid.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last Thursday that the latest Republican health care bill would leave an additional 22 million Americans without insurance by 2026.
Here’s more on the latest draft of the Senate bill.