Top Dem: ‘Ironic’ McCain could back bill that would put people with illnesses at risk

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday called it "ironic" that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? MORE (R-Ariz.), who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, could vote in favor of a plan to repeal and replace large parts of ObamaCare.

"It's ironic he has a very severe health problem, and the McConnell bill would — perhaps not for Sen. McCain or for me or for others — would put at risk people who have such a serious illness," Hoyer said on CNN's "New Day," referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump faces crucial decisions on economy, guns Are Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' MORE (R-Ky.)

McCain, 80, is set to return to Washington to participate in a procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday that would allow debate to begin on overhauling the nation's healthcare system.

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The motion to proceed in the Senate focuses on whether to take up House's healthcare reform bill, the American Health Care Act, which House Republicans narrowly passed in May. It will need at least 50 votes to overcome the procedural hurdle, assuming Vice President Pence casts the tie-breaking vote.

It's unlikely that there are enough votes in the Senate to pass the House's version of the measure.

Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare have so far foundered in the Senate, as GOP members have not been able to reach consensus on an agreement.