The Senate voted Tuesday to begin debate on the plan to repeal Obamacare outright and replace it within two years – after Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and an ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain returned to slam the chamber’s secretive process.
“On this vote, the yeas are 50 and the nays are 50,” Pence said. “The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to.”
Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the motion, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky proposed after two previous versions of a healthcare bill failed to attract enough votes.
Several senators switched their positions after saying as recently as last week that they would not support a complete Obamacare repeal without replacement.
They were Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada – considered the party’s most vulnerable incumbent going into next year’s congressional elections.
McCain, 80, who was diagnosed with brain cancer after undergoing surgery 11 days ago, returned to the Senate to vote for the procedural motion.
He was the first to speak on the floor during debate.
“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for this bill as it is today.
“It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”
He called for both parties to work together to bring forth legislation that would improve healthcare for all Americans.
“We keep trying to win without help from the other side of the aisle,” McCain said. “We are getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.
“All we’ve managed to do was make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular,” he said, referring to Obamacare. full story