Washington (AFP) – The future of the Republican effort to squash Obamacare hung in the balance Monday with Senator John McCain, whose vote is needed to pass the legislation, recovering from surgery away from Washington.
There are no votes to spare in the contentious effort to pass a new health care reform bill through Congress, where Republican leaders are desperate to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to dismantle the 2010 reforms of his predecessor Barack Obama.
So when McCain, 80, announced that doctors in Phoenix removed a five-centimeter (two-inch) blood clot above his eye, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would “defer” the upcoming vote on the bill by at least a week.
Republicans hold 52 of the chamber’s 100 seats, but two Republicans — one conservative and one moderate — have already declared their opposition. Democrats are united against the legislation.
Several others in the party have expressed reservations about the legislation, leaving it hanging by a thread just weeks before the Senate decamps for its summer recess — a break already delayed in a bid to wrangle support for the controversial plan.
Unlike in some legislatures around the world, US lawmakers must be present in Congress to vote.
Senate leadership held to the idea that a vote was forthcoming.
“I believe as soon as we have a full contingent of senators, that we’ll have that vote,” number two Senate Republican John Cornyn told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Trump, who has had his differences with McCain, said Monday: “We hope John McCain gets better very soon, because we miss him. He’s a crusty voice in Washington — plus, we need his vote.”
Spokesman Sean Spicer said the president would invite several senators to the White House later Monday to discuss the measure.
– How much recovery time for McCain? –
But questions swirled about how much recovery time McCain may need, after doctors performed a craniotomy, an opening of the skull in order to access tissue or blood…