Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) just got medical leave to fly back from his home state in time for the Senate healthcare bill vote on Tuesday.
“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” read a statement issued by his office on Monday evening.
As NBC News reported earlier tonight, the Senate’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act — also commonly known as Obamacare — will require every available vote to obtain the 50 votes necessary to pass it. Senator McCain, who recently underwent surgery to remove an “aggressive” brain tumor, has expressed concerns about the bill, but is more likely to vote for the measure than against it.
The bill itself is fraught with controversy, as current estimates from the Urban Institute and the Tax Policy Center show that the bill would throw as many as 25 million people off of their current health insurance plans if the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (Trumpcare) is signed into law, and reduce federal funding for Medicaid by almost 33 percent on average for all 50 states.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is aiming to pass the bill via the budget reconciliation process, as that allows Republicans to bypass the typical 60-vote threshold needed to get a floor vote on any given legislation. With 50 Republicans on board, Vice President Mike Pence can cast the tie-breaking vote to send the bill to the House.
However, it’s not certain that Republicans will even get 50 votes, even with Senator McCain flying back to DC to cast his vote. McConnell can only afford to have two Republicans vote “no,” as three or more would leave the caucus short of the votes necessary for passage. Currently, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are likely to vote against the measure.
Other potential holdouts include Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Dean Heller (R-Nevada), who haven’t given a hard commit to the bill as of this writing. The Washington Post assembled this graphic to show Republican senators currently opposed to the bill, and others who are on the fence.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.