After recently being diagnosed with brain cancer just last week, Sen. John McCain will go back to Washington on Tuesday — just in time for a key procedural vote on the GOP's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Arizona senator hadn't been in the capital for some time after he underwent brain surgery earlier this month, so his return is certainly surprising to most Republicans, many of whom hope to open debate on the legislation tomorrow. But, is McCain well enough to get back to work and place a critical vote on the Senate's health care bill?
"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," McCain's office said on Monday evening, according to The Hill.
According to CNN, earlier this month, McCain had been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma — a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor — and he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot last Friday. Lab results from that surgery later "confirmed the presence of brain cancer associated with the blood clot," CNN reported.
Despite these health concerns, McCain has been recovering "amazingly well" and he showed "no neurological problems before or after the operation," according to CNN.
With these recent health reports in mind, it appears that the 80-year-old senator is well enough to head into the Senate's chambers on Tuesday and place what is said to be a critical vote.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Republicans have "almost no margin for error" to pass the latest version of the GOP's health care bill and McCain's dramatic return could be crucial in helping the GOP begin debates on the Senate's health care legislation.
Although McCain's vote could help Republican leaders get the support they need, his return doesn't necessarily "guarantee" they'll get the necessary votes to begin debate, according to CNN.
But, as Politico reported, McCain's absence would have made getting 50 votes to start debate on the bill "exceedingly difficult." GOP leaders still need 50 votes of the Republican conference's 52 senators, according to NBC News.
It's still not entirely clear what exactly Republicans will be voting to debate on Tuesday. According to NBC News, it could be another "version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, an updated version of the bill that addresses the concerns of senators, a simple repeal of the Affordable Care Act or some combination of them."
But whichever version or updated legislation it turns out to be, the stakes are incredibly high. And McCain's return has definitely thrown everyone for a loop.