McCain recovers from surgery as vote on health care bill remains on hold

McCain recovers from surgery

WASHINGTON -- A vote on the Senate health care bill is on hold while Republican Senator John McCain recovers from surgery.

His vote is needed to get the bill through -- and even that might not be enough.

Meanwhile, the 80-year-old politician had well wishes from his colleagues.

"Our friend from Arizona is a pretty tough guy as we all know," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Feb. 5, 2015, in Washington, D.C.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, speaks during a press conference on Feb. 5, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Getty

That tough guy was recuperating at his home in Phoenix on Monday where sources say McCain was well enough to take calls from staffers and fellow senators including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham.

CBS News asked Graham how McCain's recent health setback was discovered.

"Routine check," Graham said. "He [McCain] goes back every so often, but he had not been feeling good. He was really tired ... he flies all over the world all the time and I was getting really worried about him."

On Friday, McCain's surgeons performed a "minimally invasive craniotomy" -- an incision through the skull -- to remove a "5-cm blood clot" above his left eye, according to a statement from McCain's office. This was not far from the spot on his left temple where he had a cancerous lesion removed in 2000.

More hurdles as Senate delays vote on GOP health bill

"I was in a battle with melanoma," McCain said at the time. "And I know, and I know somewhat, at least to a small degree, how tough that battle can be."

Sen. Graham had noted that the normally sharp six-term senator had become forgetful lately.

Most notably, McCain faltered publicly while grilling former FBI head James Comey last month in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

CBS chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook weighed in on the surgery.

"The front of the brain is important for social interaction, communications," Dr. LaPook pointed out. "So any abnormality there could cause a change in behavior."

McCain's health crisis is holding up a vote that could affect health care for millions of Americans.

Health care reform and controversies give Trump headaches

Without him, Republicans have no shot at passing their Obamacare replacement bill.

So President Trump wished McCain a speedy recovery on Monday.

"We miss him. He's a crusty voice in Washington. Plus, we need his vote," Mr. Trump said to a crowd.

McCain is one of about a dozen Republicans who haven't said where they stand. He's gotten an earful from Arizona's Republican governor who is worried about the bill's deep Medicaid cuts. Supporters say dragging this process out will only amplify that kind of opposition.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.