WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator John McCain, a critical vote in the U.S. Senate’s healthcare overhaul, was described as upbeat and comfortable in Arizona on Monday but was still days away from traveling to Washington after surgery to remove a blood clot from his head.
The Arizona senator underwent surgery on Saturday to remove a clot above his left eye discovered during a physical examination, forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to postpone a healthcare vote and throwing the timing of the debate into uncertainty.
In the meantime, the White House continued its efforts to persuade uncommitted Republican senators to vote for the legislation, with several senators set to dine with President Donald Trump on Monday evening.
McCain’s support is vital for the bill, which needs the backing of at least 50 of the 52 Republicans in the 100-member Senate. Republicans Susan Collins and Rand Paul already have said they will not vote to open debate on the legislation – meaning one more “no” vote would kill it.
“Senator McCain is in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family. On the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will be recovering in Arizona this week. As available, more information on Senator McCain’s progress will be made public,” said McCain spokeswoman Julie Tarallo.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a close friend of the 80-year-old senator, told CNN that McCain had been growing forgetful in recent weeks.
“I’m glad they found out what I think was the cause,” Graham said. “After talking to him – I talked to him Sunday – (he was) just like the old John McCain, much more engaged in conversation.”
Another friend who had talked to McCain, said “he sounds great” and that he was so eager to get back into the action in Washington that he was musing about the prospect of taking a cross-country road trip.
Changes in cabin pressure associated with air travel could harm the recovery for McCain, who survived a bout of melanoma in 2000. While his…