Posted: 3:32 pm Monday, July 17th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
With Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) not on Capitol Hill because of his own health care issues, as he deals with a blood clot that was removed from over his left eye, the effort to get a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law through the Senate remains on hold this week, as Republican leaders said Monday they would still push ahead on a bill which has struggled to get enough votes for approval.
“We need to tackle this problem,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on the Senate floor, as he opened the day’s session by sending well wishes to McCain – whose absence delayed a plan to hold debate and a vote this week on the GOP health bill.
“He’ll be back with us soon,” McConnell said, telling Senators he had spoken with McCain earlier in the day.
.@Chaplain_Black in Senate opening prayer: "Lord, bring healing to Senator John McCain"
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 17, 2017
“Our friend from Arizona is a pretty tough guy – as we all know,” McConnell added, without giving any hints about a revised timeline for when a vote might occur in the Senate on health care.
“We need to tackle this problem,” McConnell said of complaints about the Obama health law.
If there was panic about McCain’s absence and how it might impact the debate over the health care bill by delaying a vote, that was not on display on Capitol Hill, or down at the White House, as Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that officials remain ‘very confident’ the bill will be approved in the Senate soon.
“We have every confidence in the Majority Leader’s ability to get this done,” Spicer said of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“We feel very confident about where we are now and we look forward to getting that bill on the President’s desk and getting it signed,” Spicer added.
"We hope John McCain gets better very soon. We miss him. He's a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote." https://t.co/ZSpibzJlG2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 17, 2017
Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing – which was again not in front of television cameras – that the President would bring some GOP Senators down to the White House tonight to lobby them about health care.
While Republicans waited to act on health care, outside the Capitol – getting a bit wet in a summer rain shower – opponents of the GOP plan made their voices heard on Monday by rallying on Capitol Hill.
— JewishAction (@jewishaction) July 17, 2017
Meanwhile, demonstrators were also at work inside, making their voices heard in Senate offices and in the various office buildings on Capitol Hill.
Capitol Police prepare to arrest health care protesters this afternoon in the Hart Senate Office Building pic.twitter.com/AE9Njpa12K
— Bill Clark (@billclarkphotos) July 17, 2017
Back on the Senate floor, the big unknown was when Sen. McCain would return, and how long the GOP might have to wait on a health care vote.
“Lord, bring healing with Sen. John McCain,” Senate Chaplain Barry Black intoned as the Senate convened for this week’s legislative work.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.