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US Senator McCain Returns to Work a Week after Cancer Diagnosis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Republican Senator John McCain. (AP)

US Senator John McCain will make a comeback in Washington on Tuesday, the first time since being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, his office announced.

He will take part in key votes at Senate on repealing Obamacare and passing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” a statement read late Monday.

The 80-year-old McCain, recuperating after surgery in his home state of Arizona, tweeted a similar message, announcing he would be back in action in the Senate on Tuesday.

His aides announced last week that he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye, and tests confirmed discovery of a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive cancer.

The 80-year-old Arizona senator will return to Washington just days after a cancer diagnosis, to cast what could be the deciding vote Tuesday to open debate on legislation to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

McCain himself campaigned heavily on the “Obamacare” repeal issue last year as he won re-election to a sixth and almost certainly final Senate term. And there could be sweet revenge in defying cancer to undo the signature legislation of the man who beat him for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama.

McCain has told reporters in the past that he would likely vote yes on the so-called motion to proceed, the step that allows lawmakers to begin debate on legislation.

The Arizona senator would deliver a key victory to President Donald Trump, despite emerging as one of the president’s most outspoken GOP critics on Capitol Hill. During last year’s campaign Trump shockingly ridiculed McCain over his years as a POW during the Vietnam War.

Republicans hold 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats. With all Democrats opposed, Trump can afford just two defectors on the health care reform vote.

Republicans are threading the needle on the bill, as three of the party’s senators said last week they would vote no on the motion to proceed.

Republican leadership and Trump himself are leaning heavily on lawmakers to agree to vote on the procedural step that allows the Senate to begin debating — and amending — the bill.

A vote is also expected Tuesday in the House of Representatives on a sanctions bill that will likely quickly come to the Senate.

The bill would impose tough new sanctions on Russia for its alleged meddling in the US presidential election last year and Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. It would also punish Iran and North Korea for recent ballistic missile tests.

Since the diagnosis, McCain has been showered with tributes from all sides as an American original whose lifetime of public service included years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

The situation was eerily reminiscent of a similar scenario involving McCain’s good friend, the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who returned to the Senate in July 2008 while battling brain cancer to vote on Medicare legislation, his dramatic entry in the chamber eliciting cheers and applause. Kennedy died of cancer in August 2009.

McCain’s best friend in the Senate Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and other colleagues who have spoken with McCain of late, said he has been itching to get back to the Senate, impatient to return to work.

“I have a feeling if there’s any way he can be back he’ll be here, whether or not his doctors like it, knowing John,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said earlier Monday.