McCain took the microphone from a woman at one of his campaign events who said she couldn’t trust Obama because he was an Arab: “No, ma’amm” McCain replied. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about.” (Yes, his awkward wording suggests it would be difficult to be both an Arab and a decent family man, but in the heat of a campaign veering into viciously racist rhetoric, his message was seen as a largely positive one.)

His vote in the Senate

Republicans currently control the Senate with just 52 seats. Without McCain’s vote, their already shaky plan to repeal and replace, or maybe just repeal, Obamacare becomes virtually impossible. (Democrats and independents have voted unilaterally against repealing the bill.)

Three Republican senators have ruled out voting for repealing the plan with no replacement, and McCain himself was pushing for a bipartisan approach to healthcare reform.

Without McCain, the Trump administration may also have a harder time pushing through conservative nominees for executive positions, and a proposed federal budget that would slash social services.

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, McCain earned a reputation as a sharp-tongued examiner of Pentagon expenditure, while also pushing for bigger budgets. On Tuesday the committee will begin a hearing on plans to expand the US Navy to 355 ships, which is expected to cost over $100 billion a year to build and operate. While McCain is undergoing treatment, senator Jim Inhofo from Oklahoma is expected to head the committee.

There’s little doubt that McCain will be back in office after treatment. As John Dingell, the former representative from Michigan, wrote, McCain is “sharp as hell and tougher than a $2 steak. I look forward to catching up with him soon.”

This article was originally published on July 20, 2017, and updated on August 27, 2018. 

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