For the first time since announcing he has an aggressive brain tumor, Sen. John McCain returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon.
The 80-year-old Republican had flown cross-country from his home state of Arizona, where he had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye and was subsequently diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same form of brain cancer that took the life of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Baring a visible scar above his left eye, McCain received a bi-partisan standing ovation from his colleagues upon arriving to the Senate floor.
He then proceeded to vote “yes” to proceed on a bill to role back legislation Kennedy, his late friend, had championed. His vote made the procedural vote a 50-50 tie, which was then broken by Vice President Mike Pence.
However, in a floor speech, McCain said he would vote “no” on the current bill.
“I will not vote for the bill as it is today,” he said, emphasizing each word of the sentence. “It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”
During the speech, McCain urged his colleagues to ignore the “bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet” and “trust each other.” He decried the closed-door process in which Republican leaders drafted the current health care bill and suggested, if it fails, that the Senate should return to “regular order.”
“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions?” McCain said. “We’re not getting much done apart.”
McCain added that the differences between the two parties shouldn’t prevent good-faith agreements that “don’t require abandonment of core principles.” The senator also thanked his peers for their well wishes and said he would be returning home to Arizona after a few days to treat his illness.
“I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me,” he said. “And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.
Watch McCain’s full 15-minutes speech below: