McCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.), in dramatic fashion, emerged on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to a standing ovation from his colleagues to cast the deciding vote to begin the healthcare debate.

McCain walked onto the floor through the chamber’s East door as Republican and Democratic colleagues stood to applaud his return to work after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week.

The 80-year-old lawmaker, looking pale and with a wan smile, waved to his colleagues and touched his left breast, over his heart, to acknowledge them.

ADVERTISEMENT

He had a two- to three-inch scar over his left eye, where surgeons performed an emergency craniotomy over a week ago to remove a blood clot.

McCain then shook hands with Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill House passes bill to expedite financial disclosures from judges McConnell leaves GOP in dark on debt ceiling MORE (Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) before casting a crucial vote to begin debate on House-passed legislation repealing and replacing major parts of ObamaCare.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (N.Y.), who worked closely with McCain on immigration legislation, was so touched by the moment that he hugged McCain — even though Democrats staunchly oppose the GOP healthcare reform effort.

McCain cast the 49th vote to advance the measure and was immediately followed by Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Wisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all MORE (R-Wis.), who cast the 50th vote to begin the floor debate.

Two Republicans voted against the motion to proceed — Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Real relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (Alaska) — so McCain’s vote was crucial.

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceJan. 6 committee getting 'significant cooperation' from top Pence aide: CNN More voters would pick Trump over Biden if election were held today: poll Flynn, McEnany and Trump's personal assistant granted delays by Jan. 6 committee MORE voted to break a 50-50 tie and approve the motion.