Senate opens health bill debate but future murky

- A divided U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to move ahead with the GOP leadership's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie after all 48 Democrats and two Republicans voted to oppose opening up debate.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, returned to Washington to cast his supporting vote for beginning debate on health care reform. McCain is being treated for brain cancer. He said his support for debate comes with the condition that senators come up with a better health care bill than he has seen to date.

"Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it -- those who support Obamacare and those that oppose it," McCain said. "Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven't found it yet."  

Although McCain voted "yes" on the procedural motion, he said he would not support the actual healthcare bill in its current form.

President Donald Trump has intensified his pressure on the Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, a signature of his campaign. He praised party leaders for getting things moving.

"This is the beginning of the end for the disaster known as Obamacare," Trump said. "I want to thank Sen. John McCain -- he made a tough trip. We want to thank him and all of the Republicans we passed it without one Democrat vote."

Senate Democrats responded by protesting on the steps of the Capitol.

"We can stop this horrible bill," Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said. "Let's stand together."

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