Senator: Brain tumor, late night may have influenced McCain's health vote

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Sen. Cassidy plans to bring down Medicaid Senate committee schedules hearing on health care block grants MORE (R-Wis.) says Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE’s brain cancer may have factored into the Arizona Republican's stunning vote last month that sunk the GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

McCain's vote surprised Johnson, who said McCain's illness and the fact that the vote was cast in the middle of the night likely influenced his decision.

“He has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said in an interview on 560AM, “Chicago’s Morning Answer.”

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The answer prompted a surprised response from Amy Jacobson, the show’s co-host. 

“Really?” she said. “I mean he did get out — just had recovered from getting the brain tumor removed and then flew all the way to Washington, D.C., but do you really think that played a factor in his judgment call?”

McCain cast the decisive vote that killed the healthcare bill.

A spokesman for McCain criticized Johnson's remarks.

"It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Sen. Johnson would question the judgement of a colleague and friend," a McCain spokesman told NBC.

"Senator McCain has been very open and clear about the reasons for his vote," said the spokesman, who was not identified by name in the report.

Two other GOP senators also voted no, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Ryan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (Alaska), but their votes were expected. McCain’s rejection of the bill stunned GOP leaders and colleagues.  

Johnson said he was convinced at a 10:30 p.m. meeting that McCain would vote for the so-called skinny repeal bill because Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.) had assured senators that the House would agree to conference negotiations to revise it before final passage.

“I really thought John was going to vote yes,” he said.

Johnson conceded the bare-bones repeal bill, which was a last-ditch effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) to pass something through the Senate, was “grossly inadequate.”

But he said “we did get a call from Paul and he assured us that skinny repeal was not going to pass the House and would have to go to conference.”

- This story was updated at 1:54 p.m.