All eyes were on Arizona Sen. John McCain's return to the Senate floor on Tuesday to cast his "aye" vote on the measure to move forward with debates on health care reform and the potential repeal of Obamacare. What everyone might've missed between the vote and the standing ovation for McCain was the story of another politician recovering from a cancer-related surgery — Sen. Mazie Hirono, who voted against the repeal.
The Democratic senator from Hawaii was diagnosed with stage-four kidney cancer in May and, in the months leading to the vote casting this week, underwent two separate surgeries to remove a kidney and a lesion on her rib.
The 69-year-old junior senator from Hawaii has been a vocal critic of the Republican plans to repeal, replace, or pass a so-called "skinny repeal" of the current health care law.
Addressing the Senate floor on Monday night, Hirono explained how the various unknowns and uncertainties in current health care conversations can harm the vulnerable patients who are already battling for their health. Asserting that "health care is personal," she cautioned against passing measures that would leave those patients in the lurch.
Hirono's personal stake in the health care debate serves as a foil for many Americans who were disappointed in McCain's decision.
Mazie Hirono has stage 4 cancer. She's been at rallies trying to protect our care. She voted no. She didn't get a standing ovation.— Kimya Forouzan (@kimyaf) July 25, 2017
In a statement following the vote, Hirono once again expressed concern over various proposals from Republicans that, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, could leave millions more people uninsured:
For all the disappointment in (and roasting of) Sen. McCain, Sen. Hirono's experiences as a cancer survivor thoroughly committed to preventing millions of people from becoming uninsured offers a powerful counter-narrative.