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McCain cast the decisive vote to scuttle the GOP health care bill

He returned to Washington Tuesday after surgery for a brain tumor

Washington CNN  — 

Shortly before Sen. John McCain entered the Senate chamber in the wee hours of Friday morning, reporters wanted to know how he’d vote.

He instructed them to “watch the show.”

McCain killed his party’s narrowly-crafted Obamacare repeal bill Friday not because he was opposed to dismantling the Affordable Care Act, but because he fundamentally believed the process – the lack of hearings, the one-party, closed-door negotiations, the fact that in the end all that Republican senators could agree upon was a shell of the plan they’d promised – was flawed.

It was a result that may have been hinted at earlier in the week.

Less than two weeks after surgery to remove a blood clot revealed McCain had brain cancer, the Arizona Republican – still with a visible scar above his eye – traveled 2,000 miles from Phoenix and returned to a hero’s welcome Tuesday in the Senate, where he delivered an epic 15-minute speech that rattled the conscience of the body.

Cryptic calls, lip-reading and a thumbs-down: Behind McCain’s dramatic vote

“We’re getting nothing done, my friends,” McCain told his colleagues. “We’re getting nothing done.”

It was a fiery and intense lecture on the shortcomings of bypassing “regular order” and turning your back on compromise. But moments earlier, McCain had delivered a decisive vote to advance a health care bill that was still an uncertain product at that point, a kind of blessing for the type of secretive negotiations he’d just decried.