The Senate on Tuesday voted 51-50 to move forward on health care reform debate, even though it was unclear what measure the body will be considering. It was Vice President Mike Pence who cast the tie-breaking vote.
Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Maine and Alaska were the two Republicans who joined on the motion as Democrats to vote no to proceed. Before the beginning of the voting, the Senate public gallery protesters chanted: “Kill the bill” and “Shame! Shame!”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz was actually last week diagnosed with brain cancer and he came to vote in favour of the debate moving forward. He was given a standing ovation.
“I voted for the motion to proceed to permit the debate to make amendments,” said McCain. “I will not vote for this bill today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”
The Senate GOP dealt with several setbacks, including not having sufficient votes to repeal and replace the aspects of Obamacare or even to consider a straight repeal. However, the President Trump pushed the Republican lawmakers to progress on his legislative priorities.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader informed that the health care debate in the chamber will be “an open amendment process.”
“This is the beginning and there is a long way,” McConnell said after the vote. “But we’ll finish by the weekend, hopefully with a measure to reach the House and be taken up or go to conference” where the differences between the chambers’ bills are determined. “And we’re pleased to take the first step as the direction for today.”