Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky announced Saturday that he was delaying consideration of health care legislation in light of Sen. John McCain’s absence from recent surgery.
McCon+nell released a statement on Saturday night saying that he was deferring action on the measure as McCain recovers at his home in Arizona.
“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act,” McConnell said.
Surgeons in Phoenix removed a blood clot from above McCain’s left eye on Friday. The 80-year-old Senate veteran was advised by doctors to remain in Arizona next week, his office said.
A procedural vote expected in the coming days had been cast as a showdown over the measure designed to replace Obamacare once and for all.
With a 52-48 majority, Republicans can afford to only lose two votes. Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie for final passage.
Two Republicans, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, have already said they’ll vote against the measure.
Last month McConnell had to cancel a vote on a previous version of the legislation as GOP opposition left its defeat assured.
The Senate bill, like legislation passed earlier by the House, repeals mandates requiring individuals to carry insurance and businesses to offer it, and unravels an expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled enacted under President Barack Obama’s law. Analyses of the earlier version of the Senate bill found it would results in more than 20 million additional uninsured Americans over a decade compared to current law.
The newest version attempts to attract conservative support by allowing insurers to offer skimpy plans alongside more robust ones, but also reaches out to moderates by adding billions in help for the opioid crisis and to defray high costs for consumers.
With the vote set for the coming week now indefinitely postponed, GOP success in its long-promised Obamacare repeal grows all the more uncertain, despite heavy lobbying in recent days by Trump administration officials. Democrats are unanimously opposed as are the nation’s major medical groups and insurers.
In Phoenix, Mayo Clinic Hospital doctors said McCain underwent a “minimally invasive” procedure to remove the nearly 2-inch (5-centimeter) clot and that the surgery went “very well,” a hospital statement said. McCain was reported to be resting comfortably at his home in Arizona.
Pathology reports on the clot were expected in the next several days.
McCain, 80, is a three-time survivor of melanoma. Records of his medical exams released in 2008 when he was the GOP candidate for president showed that he has had precancerous skin lesions removed and had an early stage squamous cell carcinoma, an easily cured skin cancer, removed.
He was re-elected in November to a sixth Senate term.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.