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Sen. John McCain saves GOP healthcare bill in partisan vote, then calls for more bipartisanship

After casting a critical vote that allowed Republicans to move forward in their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — a move that narrowly passed along partisan lines — Sen. John McCain called on the Senate to focus more on bipartisan debate than on "winning."

McCain, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last week, made a dramatic, sooner-than-expected return to the Senate floor in time to vote for the motion to proceed on a GOP healthcare bill. The motion was opposed by every Democrat and two Republican senators, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaker vote. 

Immediately following the vote, McCain scolded senators for "not producing much for the American people" because of partisan, trivial debates. 

"Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order. We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues," McCain said. "We're getting nothing done, my friends. We're getting nothing done." 

McCain previously had criticized the Republican's secretive process for the healthcare bill and encouraged senators to start over with a bipartisan process. That left some unclear whether McCain would support Tuesday's procedural vote.

Although he voted on the motion to proceed, McCain said he would not vote on the bill as it currently stands.

"Our healthcare system is a mess; we all know it," he said. "Something has to be done. ... All we've managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn't very popular when we started trying to get rid of it."

The senator has received an outpouring of support since his diagnosis with brain cancer, but many opponents of repealing the current healthcare system criticized his vote Tuesday as hypocritical, particularly in light of his subsequent comments.

Trump also voiced support for McCain, tweeting Tuesday morning that the senator was a “brave American hero.” During the presidential campaign, Trump had questioned whether McCain, a Vietnam War veteran who spent years as a prisoner, was a hero because he was captured. 

McCain announced late Monday night he would be returning to the Senate to vote on healthcare, sanctions against Russia and the budget for the Department of Defense.

The senator also reiterated Tuesday he would not be stepping down from his seat, despite his illness.

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