Political News

The 2 senators with late-stage cancer who voted to save Obamacare

Posted July 28

Sen. John McCain was the focus of much media attention this week when he dramatically returned to Washington following recent brain surgery and cast the decisive vote scuttling GOP efforts to pass a health care plan early Friday morning.

But he wasn't the only senator battling late-stage cancer whose vote effectively saved Obamacare. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also voted against the "skinny repeal" bill.

Hirono announced she was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer in May. Her doctor noticed an abnormality on an X-ray and discovered that it was kidney cancer, which had already spread to her seventh rib. She had a kidney removed days after the diagnosis and later underwent surgery to remove a lesion on her rib in late June.

Addressing the Senate late Thursday night, Hirono spoke out against the GOP's health care plan, emotionally discussing her upbringing in rural Japan, where she lost a 2-year-old sister to pneumonia and worried about her mother getting sick without access to medical care. She then talked about her own health.

"When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer," Hirono said, "I heard from so many of my colleagues, including so many of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle, who wrote me such wonderful notes."

"You showed me your care. You showed me your compassion," she stated, before asking, "where is that tonight?"

Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday, Hirono said she spoke in part because "we were on the brink of voting on a bill that would have resulted in 17 million people getting knocked off health care."

McCain was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot above his eyebrow. He remained in Arizona last week to recover from the surprise operation but returned to the Senate floor Tuesday.

McCain then delivered a landmark speech on the need for bipartisanship, noting his current health condition.

"I stand here looking a little worse for wear," he said, while noting his gratitude for the opportunity to serve in light of the diagnosis.

Departing the Capitol, McCain -- who was joined by fellow Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine in opposing the GOP bill -- told reporters that he made his decision because "it was the right vote."

According to three congressional sources, CNN reports that McCain is expected to return to Arizona on Monday to begin cancer treatment. Hirono continues to receive care at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.


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