Arizona Sen. John McCain spent the weekend recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. The surgery was reportedly successful and minimally invasive, but it nonetheless required the former Republican presidential nominee to remain in his home state rather than on the Hill in Washington, D.C. As a result, McCain's surgery delayed the Senate's health care vote indefinitely.
A statement about McCain's condition appeared on his congressional website on Saturday. According to the statement, McCain's surgery went "very well," and the Arizona senator was in "good spirits."
Doctors reportedly found the clot during a routine annual physical on Friday and performed the surgery that same day. Per the senator's statement, doctors reported:
It wasn't clear how long McCain's recovery process would take, but the senator's office seemed to suggest that McCain would miss at least a week in the Senate.
Late on Saturday night, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement on McCain's condition. "There are few people tougher than my friend John McCain, and I know he'll be back with us soon," McConnell said in the statement. 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.
This isn't the first time that Senate Republicans have delayed progress on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, their version of health care reform. According to NPR, members of the Senate GOP had originally planned to vote on the bill before the Fourth of July holiday, but they delayed the vote when it appeared that about five Republican senators were opposed to the bill. With 52 seats in the Senate, the GOP has little room for opposition within its own party.
After facing enough opposition to reportedly delay the vote, Republican senators unveiled a revised version of the so-called Better Care Act last week. The newly revised bill still proposes cuts to Medicaid and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, but maintains some of the Affordable Care Act's taxes. Public debate over the GOP health care plan will likely continue, but McConnell likely won't call for a vote until his friend from Arizona returns to the ranks. In the meantime, the Senate will continue "work on legislative items and nominations," according to McConnell's statement.
Although all of the major positions in Trump's Cabinet have been filled, some vacancies still remain the administration. For instance, the Senate is expected to soon confirm investment banker and Marine veteran Richard Spencer as Trump's secretary of the Navy. In McCain's absence, such nominations may move forward while health care continues to loom on the horizon.