Finance

McCain’s surgery puts Obamacare repeal vote in doubt

Sen. John McCain underwent surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye and will stay in Arizona to recover next week – denying Republicans a key vote in their push to repeal Obamacare, where the GOP already has no room for error.

Republican leaders want to hold a procedural vote to launch debate on its health care plan next week, with Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn telling the Associated Press that he expected the chamber to vote to take up its bill on “Tuesday night or Wednesday at the latest.”

But McCain’s (R-Ariz.) absence from the Senate significantly complicates those plans. Two GOP opponents of the Obamacare repeal bill – Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky – have already said they will not vote to proceed to the measure. That means Republicans, who holds 52 votes in the Senate, already could not afford to lose any other GOP senator for the procedural vote.

In a statement released by McCain’s office, the Mayo Clinic said surgeons removed a blood clot from above the senator’s left eye during a procedure on Friday at its hospital in Phoenix.

“Senator McCain received excellent treatment at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, and appreciates the tremendous professionalism and care by its doctors and staff,” McCain’s office said in a statement Saturday night. “He is in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family. On the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will be recovering in Arizona next week.”

Doctors used a minimally invasive craniotomy to remove the 5-cm blood clot, and McCain, 80, is “resting comfortably at home and is in good condition.” Tissue pathology reports are expected within the next several days, according to the hospital.

One GOP source said no decision has been made whether to delay the procedural vote. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not immediately return a request for comment on Saturday night.

McCain signaled discontent with the revised version of the Senate GOP’s health care measure when it was released Thursday, saying it did not include measures he had called for. But he did not say whether he would vote to block the legislation, like Collins and Paul.

“That’s why if the Senate takes up this legislation, I intend to file amendments that would address the concerns raised by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and other leaders across our state about the bill’s impact on Arizona’s Medicaid system,” McCain said earlier this week. “Arizona has been nationally recognized for running one of the most efficient and cost-effective Medicaid programs in the country. This legislation should reward states like Arizona that are responsibly managing their health care services and controlling costs – not penalize them.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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