John McCain spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon, making a case for bipartisanship after casting his vote in favor of moving Obamacare repeal forward. This came just a few days after Senator McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer.
In his speech, McCain criticized Congress and said that the Senate has essentially gotten nothing done in 2017.
“All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court,” McCain said.
After noting that the Senate is called the world’s most deliberative body, McCain said, “I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.”
Speaking specifically about Obamacare repeal, McCain said that Republicans, by working behind closed doors on health care, have only made the law more popular. He declared that although he was voting in favor of proceeding today, he would not vote for the current version of the American Health Care Act, encouraging Republicans to work with Democrats going forward.
“I will not vote for this bill as it is today,” McCain said. “It’s a shell of a bill right now.”
McCain also bemoaned increased partisanship in recent years, saying that he himself has contributed to it on occasion.
“Sometimes I’ve let my passion rule my reason,” he said. “Sometimes I’ve made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague.”
McCain then told his colleagues to stop listening to talk show hosts and pundits, reaching across the aisle no matter what these extreme voices might advocate for.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loud mouths on television and the radio and the Internet,” McCain said. “To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.”
Senator McCain underwent surgery on July 14th to remove a blood clot, and he was subsequently diagnosed with brain cancer. According to CNN, McCain was advised not to fly for two weeks after his surgery.
However, McCain returned on Tuesday as Republicans voted to proceed with debate on Obamacare repeal and replacement. The vote was quite tight; there are 52 Republicans in the Senate, and 50 votes were needed, meaning no more than two Republicans could vote against the measure. Indeed, two Republicans did vote against the motion to proceed, and so McCain’s vote was critical. Ultimately, the vote was 50 to 50, and Vice President Mike Pence intervened with a yes vote to break the tie.
During his speech today, McCain said that he will be in the Senate for a few more days and then will be taking some time off to recover. He also said that he appreciates the well wishes and that he fully intends to return to work.
When McCain arrived to the Senate on Tuesday afternoon, he received a standing ovation from his Senate colleagues.