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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) –  In a showdown over health care, Senators voted Tuesday to start a debate over the controversial topic.

Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie in a 51-50 vote to debate the GOP’s health bill.

Still left is a vote on the bill on the Senate floor – one that could keep alive the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Adding to that drama – Senator John McCain was back on Capitol Hill to vote less than a week after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. He was greeted by a standing ovation from both sides of the aisles. He later shared a few words on his return.

“Make no mistake,” McCain said. “My service here is the most important job I have had in my life.”

McCain called on both sides of the aisle to get things done asking them to ask themselves what they had to lose by working together to find a solution.

“We are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal.” said McCain. “The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America….we are the servants of a great nation.”

He also went on to add his opinion about the GOP’s health care bill.

“I will not vote for this bill as it is today,” said McCain. “It is a shell of a bill right now.”

Moments later, President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Lebanon’s Prime Minister and addressed the vote and McCain.

“We want to thank Senator McCain and all of the Republicans who passed it without one Democratic vote,” said Trump who went on to call for the Senate to get a move on.

The president said the ‘Senate must now pass a bill and get it to my desk’ so he could ‘end the Obamacare disaster once and for all.’

During the press conference, the president said over the next week or two they would come up with a health care plan that he claims would be ‘great’ for the American people.

In a tweet storm on Tuesday morning, President Trump encouraged Senators to keep their promise and get something done.

Some Republicans and Democrats have expressed confusion about the vote.

“Considering a bill that has not been written, published, and disclosed to the American people is just wrong,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL.

Technically, the bill they are voting on is the health care bill that passed in the House by just one vote in May. Back then, the Senate called it dead on arrival and the president called it “mean.”

Since the vote was successful, Senators can now propose amendments to craft the legislation into one that can potentially win enough votes to pass.

“Any Senator can introduce any amendment he or she wishes,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX.

But there are those on both sides of the aisle who say starting with the House bill is a non-starter.

“I want it to be a clean repeal, but this bill doesn’t do it, there’s is an enormous insurance bailout, and I’m not for that,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY.

Some Republicans have balked at the scatter shot approach, leading the White House to turn on the pressure.


The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said various versions of the legislation would mean more than 20 million Americans would become uninsured by 2026.