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Senator with cancer voted to save Obamacare a month after surgery

Correction: The original version of this story gave the wrong date for Sen. Hirono’s surgery. The surgery was on June 27. The headline has also been updated.

John McCain got all the attention when he returned to D.C. for the dramatic Obamacare vote Tuesday, just a week after surgery and a cancer diagnosis, but another senator with a recent cancer diagnosis also showed up for the vote after having had surgery less than a month earlier.


McCain returned from cancer surgery in his home state Arizona to a standing ovation, delivering an impassioned speech on bipartisanship and a yea vote to move forward with the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare. But the night before, Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, spoke at length criticizing the bill, further from the spotlight.

Hirono, 69, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in May, and she took to the floor Monday night to advocate against the Republican plan, whose exact details are still developing as senators add and debate amendments.

“I was able to sit down with my doctor and decide how I was going to fight my cancer, not how I was going to pay for it. No one should have to worry about how whether they can afford the health care that one day might save their life,” Hirono said. “Healthcare is personal.”

On Tuesday, she voted against the bill, a month after her surgery to remove a lesion on her ribs.

But the Republicans prevailed.

With McCain’s vote and Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, the Senate passed a key procedural hurdle to start floor debate on repealing Obamacare..