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McConnell: Senate Will 'Defer' Vote On Republican Health Care Bill

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a meeting of GOP senators in the U.S. Capitol on June 22.MoreCloseclosemore
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a meeting of GOP senators in the U.S. Capitol on June 22.

The Senate will postpone its consideration of the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act until Sen. John McCain returns to Washington.

The Republican senator from Arizona is recovering from brain surgery performed Friday to remove a nearly 2-inch blood clot from above his left eye. The surgery was described as a "minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision."

"The Senator is resting comfortably at home and is in good condition," according to his doctors at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, relayed in a statement from McCain's office. He's in "good spirits" after the "surgery went 'very well.' "

The tissue that was removed is undergoing analysis, and McCain's office says results should be available within the next several days.

Shortly after McCain's office released the statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell clarified what the news meant for the vote on the Republican health care bill planned for next week.

"While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act," McConnell said in a statement he posted to Twitter.

McConnell had been in a rush to get the bill to a vote, in part because it was thought more time wouldn't help and could hurt the chance for passage.

And the Republican senator's absence from the Capitol next week would have complicated the already tight math surrounding a planned Senate health care vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Two Republican senators have already announced opposition to the measure, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. With McCain away, unless one of those two senators changes their mind, Senate Republican leaders are unlikely to meet the 50-vote threshold needed to begin debate on the bill.

A chorus of senators weighed in on McCain's recovery via Twitter, including the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Sen. Jeff Flake, also from Arizona, put out a statement, saying he and his wife were praying for a speedy recovery.

"I have never known a man more tenacious and resilient than John McCain," Sen. Flake said. "I look forward to seeing him back at work soon."

Correction: July 17, 2017 12:00 am — In a previous version of this story, we said that Sen. John McCain had been in a rush to bring the bill to a vote. It was actually Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Copyright NPR 2017.

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