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And So It Begins: Senate Finally Takes Up Health Care Debate

With protesters attempting to disrupt the proceedings by shouting "Kill the bill!" and "Shame!", the U.S. Senate voted to approve a motion to begin debate on a health care bill that will ultimately repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republicans alone carried the day, with 50 of the 52 GOP senators casting their votes in favor. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, both voted with Democrats and the Senate's two independents in opposition to the motion. With a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to approve the motion.

Initially, no Democrats were willing to vote for the measure, but, once it was clear Republicans would have the votes to prevail, they then cast their "no" votes. Following the vote, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who traveled back to Washington, D.C., while recovering from a recent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain, and who has subsequently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of life-threatening brain cancer, addressed the body.

He rebuked both parties for the acrimonious atmosphere that has developed in the Senate and admonished them to return to "regular order" to create a health care bill that will provide real solutions for Americans. When Democrats began to applaud his unveiled swipe at his own party, he quickly reminded them they did the same thing with Obamacare nine years ago.

You can watch his entire speech in the video clip above.

Following McCain's speech, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called up the bill's first amendment, which would be a measure to replace the House's American Health Care Act with a straight repeal bill—a bill identical to one adopted by Congress in December of 2015 and vetoed by President Barack Obama. Democrats continued their obstructionism, however, by requiring the entire amendment be read before it could be considered.

In the midst of the clerk's reading, another round of protests began in the gallery. This time, the protesters chanted, "Kill the bill! Let the people live!"

At the current rate, it's going to take a long time to get to a final bill that will warrant a vote.


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