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John McCain’s Absence Could Imperil the Senate Healthcare Bill

Senator John McCain’s absence could jeopardize the Senate healthcare bill’s chances of passing through the upper chamber.

Senator John McCain’s convalescence from his recent surgery has delayed the Senate healthcare bill’s vote for this week. The bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), was slated for a vote this week. The Senate leadership promises that the chamber will vote on the measure as soon as he recovers.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of Senate leadership, said, “I believe as soon as we have a full contingent of senators, that we’ll have that vote.”

However, some doctors remain skeptical of how quickly McCain can recover from his surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery, explained, “For most patients, the time to recover from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not say how long the leadership plans to delay the vote on the BCRA. Supporters and detractors of the bill argue that the longer the Senate delays the vote, the harder it will be for the chamber to pass the bill. Soon, the Senate’s schedule will become swamped by an increasingly busy legislative schedule such as raising the debt ceiling, government spending bills, and tax reform.

Sen. Cornyn admitted that it remains unclear what will happen to the BCRA, although the Texas senator said if the BCRA fails, then they could look into other options. Cornyn said, “I assume we’ll keep trying. But at some point, if Democrats won’t participate in the process, then we’re going to have to come up with a different plan.”

President Donald Trump previously suggested that if the Senate leadership remains unable to pass the BCRA, then they should first repeal and then replace Obamacare.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) came out against the revised BCRA, meaning that McConnell cannot afford to lose any more votes and still have Vice President Mike Pence break the tie.

Sen. Cornyn told reporters in June that the BCRA is “not going to get any easier” as time passes and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained that the bill “is not like fine wine; it doesn’t get better with age.”

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