Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday night that Senate consideration of legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare will be delayed while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recovers from surgery.
McCain had announced earlier on Saturday that he would not be in the Senate next week, depriving Republicans of a key vote.
Without McCain, Senate Republicans likely would not have had the 50 votes necessary to advance the legislation.
“Elaine and I, along with the entire Senate family, wish John the very best and wish him a speedy recovery,” McConnell said in a statement that referred to his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act.”
McCain underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from his eye on Friday, according to statements from his office and the Mayo Clinic. He is recovering at home in Arizona.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have already said they would oppose a procedural vote to advance to the new Senate GOP healthcare legislation, which was unveiled this past week. With all Democrats voting no, that would leave Republicans with just 49 votes, given McCain’s absence.
The further delay in the schedule is a problem for McConnell, as opponents of the legislation could use the extra time to pressure wavering GOP centrists to vote against it.