Senator John McCain is resting at home in Arizona after his surgery for a blood clot, which pushed back the Senate vote on the GOP's health care bill. There is no excuse to shut down debate over the bill before it can even begin.
"Time is not the problem in the present health care bill", Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters. As the leader of the Senate, McConnell also revealed that the Senate would "defer consideration of the Better Care Act" until McCain returned from recovery. The lower House of Representatives passed legislation to do so in May.
Meanwhile, the latest Congressional Budget Office report on the bill - and likely negative headlines for the White House and GOP about people who could lose health care under their plan - won't be released Monday as previously planned. According to the Washington Post, the Senate is already divided 52-49 between the Democrats and Republicans with respect to the support and opposition surrounding the legislation. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of ME opposed the bill already, and McCain's absence next week would likely have made it impossible to proceed.
That left McConnell without a single vote to spare. He previously had three other malignant melanomas removed, on his left shoulder, left arm and left nasal wall (removed in 1993, 2000 and 2002 respectively). Collins said Cruz's plan was "unworkable", echoing the language of two leading insurance lobbying groups on Friday. His presence is needed after Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Rand Paul (KY) indicated they would not support the bill that has been unpopular with many Americans.
Following the surgery, McCain sang the Mayo Clinic's praises for the "excellent treatment" he received at the hospital.
"I think this bill has actually gotten much better as a result of the discussions we've had amongst ourselves", Cornyn said. McConnell has had a more hard time rounding up support in the Senate.
In the meantime, the battle for the hearts, minds, and votes of the remaining holdout Senators will continue. That last bill can't get done with McCain out, since he's the armed services committee chairman who must manage the bill on the floor.
While the change complicates Mr McConnell's plans, it also buys him time to shore up more support among a number of holdouts, including senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Governors of both parties have sharply criticized the Senate bill, drafted mainly by McConnell. Several weeks ago he said that 22 million people losing access to health care was "a factor" to consider, but not a reason to jettison the bill. He said he would propose amendments that would shield Arizonans from penalties for having expanded Medicaid prior to the Affordable Care Act.