Republican senators voted Tuesday to move forward on the long-promised Obamacare repeal as bill details remain undetermined.
The vote took place as senators waited for Sen. John McCain, recently diagnosed with brain cancer, to make his triumphant return to Capitol Hill and cast the vote that tied the motion 50-50. The tie included 50 Republicans voting “yes” and 48 Democrats and 2 Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Ak.) and Sen. Susan Collins (Me.), voting “no.” Vice President Mike Pence issued the tie-breaking vote for 51-50.
Last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to postpone the vote because the bill on the table then lacked support from both conservatives and moderates. Early Tuesday afternoon, several senators who had previously opposed moving ahead with the health care debate announced they had changed their minds, including Republican Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (W. Va.).
The GOP has struggled to get this point, as McCain pointed out in his floor speech given after casting his vote.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the television and the radio and the Internet. To hell with them! Our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”
This vote sets up days of debates and votes over what parts of the Affordable Care Act this “skinny bill” will repeal and replace.