Senate GOP: McCain may return for ObamaCare vote Tuesday
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Republicans expressed cautious optimism Monday that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (R-Ariz.), who was diagnosed with brain cancer last week, will return to the Senate in time for a key ObamaCare repeal vote on Tuesday.

The final decision rests with McCain’s doctors.

The 80-year-old lawmaker underwent an emergency craniotomy last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye. He was later diagnosed with a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer.

Senate aides reported last week that McCain was alert and talking to staff shortly after the operation and eager to return to Washington.

But medical experts at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix may not like the idea of him jumping back to work so soon.

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Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynO'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (Texas) told reporters Monday that McCain was trying to get approval from his doctors to return Tuesday.

But Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePolls: Hiking estate tax less popular than taxing mega wealth, income Will Trump sign the border deal? Here's what we know Key GOP senator pitches Trump: Funding deal a 'down payment' on wall MORE (S.D.), the chamber’s third-ranking Republican, said "I don't expect it" when asked if McCain would be there Tuesday.  

McCain’s office declined to confirm his schedule.  

Two Senate aides said they expect he will be present Tuesday afternoon when lawmakers vote on a motion to proceed to the House-passed American Health Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle Sanders: 'Not crazy' about nixing the Senate filibuster McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will offer an amendment to replace it with a bill that repeals as much of ObamaCare as possible, setting up a two-year transition to craft replacement legislation.

If that amendment fails, the Senate is likely to move to its own version of legislation to repeal and replace the pillars of ObamaCare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. That measure, however, did not appear to have enough votes to pass as of Monday afternoon.

The legislation will move under special budgetary rules setting up 20 hours of debate and rapid-fire votes on an indefinite number of amendments, a grueling schedule even for a lawmaker in fine health.

—Peter Sullivan contributed. Updated at 5:48 p.m.