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Senate Advances Health Care Bill as McCain Makes Dramatic Return, Pence Breaks Tie

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Sen. John McCain returned to the Senate to cast one of the final and crucial votes on a procedural step to advance Republicans' plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.

In a dramatic moment, Sen. John McCain returned from Arizona to applause from fellow senators. He case a necessary Republican vote for the motion after two GOP senators sided with all Democrats in opposition.

As the vote began, protesters in the Senate gallery shouted “kill the bill” and “shame, shame, shame!”

The vote came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump dared their fellow Republicans to block their seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The next step is floor debate on the legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act even though there aren’t any guarantees the votes are there to eventually pass it — and it’s unclear what a final bill will look like.

Several Republican holdouts have announced they will vote for the motion, bringing McConnell close to the 50 he needs to pass it.

Sens. Rand Paul, Dean Heller and Shelley Moore Capito say they will vote “yes.” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will also back the motion, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Fifty votes will be needed to advance the bill, and with only 52 Republicans in the Senate — no Democrats willing to back Obamacare repeal — there is no margin for error. Vice President Mike Pence will be on Capitol Hill in case he needs to break a tie.

Adding to the drama: Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who has been away from Washington after surgery and a diagnosis of brain cancer, is flying back Tuesday for the vote.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly said he’s ready to sign any repeal legislation, continues to call on Republicans to give him the major congressional victory that’s eluded the White House thus far.

“For the last seven years, Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare’s victims,” Trump said at the White House Monday. “Remember repeal and replace, repeal and replace, they kept saying it over and over again.

He added, “But so far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.”

RELATED: Trump welcomes ‘American hero’ McCain back to Washington

Should the vote fail, it does not necessarily mean the end of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but throws a major roadblock and could send Republicans back to the drawing board. The House passed its bill to repeal and replace the health care law in May.

Democrats are united against the bill, saying it would end health care coverage for millions of Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday called the bill the “cruelest, most destructive and irresponsible piece of legislation ever brought to the United States Senate in the modern history of this country.”

In a speech at the NAACP national convention, highlighted the possible effects of the bill’s provisions, which include cutting Medicaid, defunding Planned Parenthood and roadblocks for those with pre-existing conditions.

Paul, Heller to back motion

Already, McConnell has won over one crucial holdout: Paul, a Kentucky Republican, who said he will support the procedural vote to open debate on the health care bill, so long as leadership guarantees a vote on a full repeal of Obamacare.

“If this is indeed the plan, I will vote to proceed and I will vote for any all measures that are clean repeal,” Paul tweeted. Such an amendment would be expected to fail, however.

Heller, who has complained that Obamacare repeal efforts could hurt Nevada residents dependent on Medicaid, nevertheless said he’d vote to move forward. Heller is up for a tough re-election campaign in Nevada next year.

“Obamacare isn’t the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn’t the answer either,” Heller said in a statement. “If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it; if it is improved, I will support it.”

Republican leaders Tuesday are trying to thread any needle they can to appease other holdouts.

“The only goal is to get onto the bill. Nothing happens until we do, so that’s the only goal,” a Republican aide said.

“These are the moments legislatively when you get creative. We’re getting creative.”

The goal, as it is being communicated to members right now, is to get something over the line and into a conference with the House, where they would hammer out further details and amendments.

If it passes

Leadership was floating a strategy Tuesday morning that lays out a series of proposals that attempt to give everyone they want, even though nearly every element is destined for failure on the floor during the amendment process.

That strategy is as follows, in terms of amendment order:

The full repeal bill that Paul backs.

A bill including the “consumer freedom amendment” from that Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee originally advocated for, that includes a request from Sen. Rob Portman for $100 billion in additional Medicaid funding. That would require 60 votes to pass.

The GOP bill proposed earlier this month that McConnell pulled when too many Republicans opposed it.

Finally, a “skinnier” repeal bill that repeals Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.

This story will be updated.

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  • venustechnologynetwork

    As a former republican that went Democrat after living under the rule of Tom Gashole Corbett, one must wonder, how much longer will anyone vote republican? Republicans in Pennsylvania will tax your living expenses but they wont’ tax the corporation. They tax you more than they tax the gas industry. They also promise to do things like repeal Obamacare, and then with a republican controlled house, senate, supreme court, and presidency, they do nothing but golf. SMARTEN UP, stop voting for these frauds.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Also, I feel hospitals and health care authorities have WAY TOO MUCH power in this country.

    If you care to do some reading, research the health care system of 1930’s Germany in aiding the 3rd Reich in systematic steps towards the Holocaust.

    Piece by piece, step by step.

    How do you eat an elephant?

    Keep your eyes open.

    OH!! And since we can’t comment on the microchipping of employees article, let’s just say, we’re one step closer…..

  • Russ

    The entire idea of for-profit healthcare needs to be eradicated from this earth. The fact that the well-being of others has had a cost put on it, and such an exorbitant one at that, is cruelty against our fellow man in the purest form…

    • Givemeabreak

      True Republican indeed you are. He is a vet that served his country when some couldn’t because of bone spurs and other excuses.

      • confused

        I thought all of you democratic longhairs were war protesters. Did you fall in between the cracks or something? I’ve never seen a democrat stick up for a ‘Nam vet. Or any vet for that matter.

      • Givemeabreak

        I am an independent because the two party system is destroying the country. I will stick up for anyone that sacrifices for our country. Parties mean nothing to me. Doing what is right does. I don’t like war and sending our children to die but we all have a duty as citizens of this country to protect our land and families. Some have given the greatest sacrifice and those should never be disrespected. McCain was a POW and I can’t imagine what he went through. He deserves our respect even if we don’t agree with him. He has earned the right.
        Not a religious man either but don’t forget Jesus had long hair.

  • ***

    Its okay, without the help of health insurance, I cant wait to be denied thanks to my chronic illness that I have no control over. That only means I can die even sooner and I wont have to deal with this idiotic selfish country anymore.

  • Real American

    Repeal! Don’t Replace… Government should not be in healthcare. Free marker, lower prices! No more paying for people who refuse to put into the system.

    • CeeMe

      Lower prices are the last thing insurance companies want. They are worse than the government, which runs Canada’s and Europe’s systems by setting limits on exorbitant prices for procedures. Everyone contributes to the system, through their taxes. What’s wrong with that? Implement true universal healthcare, not Obamacare and not this bill, either.

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli

      Absolutely! Government has NO PLACE, NO BUSINESS, and NO RIGHT to be in healthier care. PERIOD!

      Oppose that and you can simply F OFF!!

      • lookback

        So you believe our wounded veterans should just be tossed on the sidewalk and allowed to suffer and die of their wounds after fighting for our country because you know they receive government provided healthcare. I guess you were one of those fortunate ones that had bone spurs or a really rich daddy, well good for you however I and most others didn’t and true patriots would stand with our vets while you would simply turn your back on them. Your mouth is full of bravery and your soul, not so much.

      • oh well

        Lookback- Yup, I have no problems with vets on the street. That’ll teach ’em to become a government military puppet. Last I knew, military is all volunteer. Homelessness is on them. I didn’t volunteer to be a government pawn and I’m doing just fine today. Let the military take care of them. They “made” them.

      • Lloyd Schmucatelli

        Lookback, you’re talking about 2 different issues. Veteran homelessness and healthcare have nothing to do with each other. I know plenty of vets who have came home and have been fine. Some have done exceedingly well even with PTSD, so your argument is invalid.

        Homelessness in this country IS A CHOICE! Unless, of course, you are totally mentally ill and that again is a different story.

        I’m not saying we shouldnt house the infirm, but we have to draw the line for somewhere.

        I shouldn’t have to pay for the health insurance of the fat cow in front of me at the pharmacy on welfare insurance b*tching about her diabetes medicine with a shopping cart full of frosted mini-wheats, Reese’s pieces and 5lbs
        of sugar.

        Free Markets and Darwin’s Theory!

        Let em go!

        We spend WAAAYYY TOO much money and time in this country trying to save and prop up people that don’t have enough sense or are to lazy to step out of the way of an oncoming train.

        Let em go!

    • Givemeabreak

      You have no real grasp of how business works. Since hospitals can’t turn sick people away, even the ones with no money. The hospital will just charge the people who can pay the bill more to cover their loses on the people that didn’t pay or it will go on the national debt. The real issue is the out of control costs of healthcare that need to be regulated. Government does have a place in healthcare and it is making sure the citizens aren’t being overcharged by the healthcare business. We spend more money on healthcare than any other country and we are ranked 37th in the world by the World Health Organization.

      • Lloyd Schmucatelli

        In a true free market system, it self regulates.

        I’d like to see a restaurant try what a hospital does. Here’s the menu, we’ll send you the bill. You eat with no clue of the costs.

        If a person can’t pay for it out of pocket, it’s too expensive.

        Sure, you can go to the car dealer and buy a brand new $60,000 pick up truck if your heart desires OR you can buy a 10 year old used truck that YOU can afford. You don’t pay your rent because you have a $60,000 truck you can’t afford, that’s your

        True Free Markets self regulate.

        The Feds need to let this system F’N fall to the ground and let the entrepreneurs pick up the pieces at wholesale prices and rebuild it!

        Write in Lloyd 2020! I’ll get this country turned around.

      • Bowrigard

        There are a lot of problems as you said with medicine/healthcare. When you get hit by a car you’re not going to go and comparison shop for the best deal. The hospital/ER has you by the short hairs and charges what ever they feel they can. When someone gets lasik they go out and comparison shop and get the best deal. If you didn’t have a choice on doctor, office and price like the you don’t have a choice with the hospital/ER the price of lasik would be sky high.

  • Fight for what's right

    They have to get it right or they’ll get slaughtered in the 2018 and 2020 election. Plain and simple. Preexisting conditions need to be covered, and the whole health care system needs to be overhauled.

Comments are closed.