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Kennedy Returns for Medicare Vote, McCain Doesn't

Ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) made a dramatic return to the Senate today, interrupting his cancer treatments to travel to Washington and cast the decisive vote in favor of proceeding to final passage on a Medicare bill.

Kennedy's return was a closely-guarded secret up until the moment he walked up to the chamber's doors surrounded by security. His arrival and vote prompted his colleagues to give him a sustained standing ovation. With Kennedy's help, the Senate voted 69-30 in favor of ending debate on the bill to prevent cuts in physicians' pay under Medicare. A similar roll call before the July 4th recess fell one vote short of the 60 necessary to proceed. Today's vote was expected to go the same way, until Kennedy's vote ensured the outcome and several Republicans who had previously voted against cloture decided to switch.

"I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens - and that's to protect Medicare," Kennedy said in a statement. "Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn't going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference."

Only one Senator missed the vote today -- presidential candidate John McCain, who is busy on the campaign trail. McCain also missed votes earlier today on terrorism surveillance legislation. The Arizonan Republican's campaign did take the time this morning to lambaste Sen. Barack Obama for his alleged flip-flopping on the surveillance issue, though at least Obama showed up for the vote today.

Yesterday marked the two- three-month anniversary of the last time McCain cast a Senate vote, on April 8. The Medicare vote marked the 76th consecutive tally McCain has missed.

UPDATE 5:45 PM: A total of nine Republicans who voted "no" on the Medicare cloture question last month switched to vote "aye" today, likely because Kennedy's presence ensured that the motion would prevail. The switchers were Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), John Cornyn (Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mel Martinez (Fla.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and John Warner (Va.).

Capitol Briefing alumnus Paul Kane points out that of the 18 total Republicans who voted in favor of cloture today, defying President Bush's veto threat, nine of them are up for reelection in November.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 9, 2008; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

The U.S. Senate got it right today. Physicians of the Texas Medical Association applaud Congress, especially our two Texas senators, for voting for elderly patients, military families, and persons with disabilities. The Senate passed HR 6331 with a vote of 69-30 to protect critical health care for Medicare patients.

Texas physicians want to commend the courage and wisdom of both U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn who voted for their constituents - our patients - today. Our Texas senators listened to their patients and physicians, and reversed the 10.6-percent physician Medicare cuts that went into effect July 1. We cannot thank them enough for standing up for our patients.

Josie Williams, MD
President
Texas Medical Association

Posted by: Josie Williams, MD | July 9, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

It appears that the Senators listened to their constituents on their vacation week off.

They apparently realized that they can listen to their donors who give them big bucks or to the voters who pay the tab for their follies and keep them in office.

Perhaps they considered asking why the super-efficient insurance companies and HMOs demanded and received an additional 18% surcharge over and above what Medicare Parts A and B (administered by insurance companies and HMOs) actually cost.

UnitedHealth probably said they needed it for the $1.4 Billion Dollar gift of retirement benefits and stock options they tried to give their outgoing CEO in 2006 and 2007 before the Dept of Justice made some inquiries that only let them give the CEO an additional $800 Million Dollars.

Posted by: Alan Lidstone | July 9, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

but Josie... they only voted that way because Kennedy dragged himself off his deathbed.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 9, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

This legislation was facing a veto threat - isn't there a significant impact from there being 69 Aye votes v. 60? With 60 the bill could have been stopped by a veto; with 69 the veto will be over turned (coupled with the strong 6 to 1 House vote).

Was the nine vote switch a direct slap to the President?

Posted by: Billp | July 9, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

THREE months.

If McCain's last Senate vote was April 8, then yesterday was the 3-month anniversary of the last time he cast one.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't believe that with Kennedy absent and being the obvious 60th vote in June, that the comity of the Senate did not encourage one of the Republicans to state on the record that while s/he opposed the vote for cloture s/he would vote in favor of cloture in Sen. Kennedy's stead. That would have been the classy (read "Senatorial") thing to do.

Posted by: Left of the Pyle | July 9, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse


MCCAIN MISSED THE VOTE.

now that's really RICH.

i'm curious.... WHY did he miss the vote? did mccain forget there was one? maybe mccain also forgot what he had for breakfast this morning also... maybe mccain forget he hadn't gotten dressed yet, and was halfway to the airport before cindy called him on his cellphone and told he had had forgotten to get dressed.

gee. i wonder where he was carrying his cell phone...

yes, it's good to be senile.

you never carry baggage with you though life... every day you start clean. well.. that is, as long as you have somebody to remind you of your name in the morning..

mccain, who's trying to become the friggin PRESIDENTY misses the vote.. and kennedy, recovering from brain surgery, makes the vote.

friggin classic if you ask me.

don't you just love politics?

(but then on a side note.. drama queen, the obama king made it to the FISA vote... and if you haven't heard.. he FLIP FLOPPED yet again. obama.. who campaigned AGAINST FISA, voted FOR it.

why do i have a feeling we just f*ked by obama over the past few months???

Posted by: BOB | July 9, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

John, at least you could show up. Barak showed up to protect the elderly. Heck, Kennedy is half dead and he made it. John, why didn't you show up? Were you afraid, John?

Posted by: Truthpatriot | July 9, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

And, how many votes has Obama missed since becoming Senator? And, before that, when he was in the Illinois legislature. He was always too busy campaigning. And, even if he did vote in Illinois, it was "present."

Give it a rest Obamabots ... your guy is a loser and he has already lost!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Bob, take your medicine.

Posted by: Truthpatriot | July 9, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse


Of course McCain missed the vote.
He's BUSY.

Posted by: wardropper | July 9, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I hope you're being sarcastic, wardropper.

McCain is an idiot for being the only one to miss this.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

And EVERYONE who voted Nay has an R after their name.

The one R after their name who SHOULD have voted is the McShame.

Who would vote for this tool. FU McCan't!!!

I would not listen to that fossil EVER again after not voting for this bill, and this guy will HAVE THE BRASS BALLS to condescend the older than 60 vote after this.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

McCain is busy. Like the author is too busy to realize April was 3 months ago.

It is hard work entertaining the press and mutual back-scratching is hard on the ole bones. It is hard work flying around in your wife's plane... doing the work of the "people." The work of the "people" who finance his campaign, the work of the "people" who staff his campaign. You know these "people." They are called lobbyists.

It is also hard work to take a stand during an election where either way you vote could cost you some support. Some maverick.

Posted by: Frank Booth | July 9, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Senate got it right today. Physicians of the Texas Medical Association applaud Congress, especially our two Texas senators, for voting for elderly patients, military families, and persons with disabilities. The Senate passed HR 6331 with a vote of 69-30 to protect critical health care for Medicare patients.

Texas physicians want to commend the courage and wisdom of both U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn who voted for their constituents - our patients - today. Our Texas senators listened to their patients and physicians, and reversed the 10.6-percent physician Medicare cuts that went into effect July 1. We cannot thank them enough for standing up for our patients.

Josie Williams, MD
President
Texas Medical Association

Posted by: Josie Williams, MD | July 9, 2008 6:32 PM

HEY JOSIE GIRL, HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU MAKE OR WILL MAKE ON THIS VOTE????????????


MORE THAT THE POSTERS HERE.

A HAT MADE OUT OF DUNG TO YOU.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 11:31 PM | Report abuse

McCain can't decide who to appease. The poor man can't figure out whether he should appeal to the Bush conservatives or the independents, the oil cartel or conservationists, the evangelists or the pro-choice, the middle class americans or the Bush idealogues who never saw a tax cut for the rich they did not like.

No wonder the poor man is afraid to cast any vote these days. Give him a break!!!

Posted by: Oscar | July 9, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

McCain is busy. Like the author is too busy to realize April was 3 months ago.

It is hard work entertaining the press and mutual back-scratching is hard on the ole bones. It is hard work flying around in your wife's plane... doing the work of the "people." The work of the "people" who finance his campaign, the work of the "people" who staff his campaign. You know these "people." They are called lobbyists.

It is also hard work to take a stand during an election where either way you vote could cost you some support. Some maverick.

Posted by: Frank Booth | July 9, 2008 11:28 PM


This McCain guy is a maverick alright, he is the maverick of bad and tasteless jokes.

Does he know this Jodie Williams, MD, President, Texas Medical Association???

I am glad that I don't live in Texas, oh, drywall Hutchinson and Corny shed a tear for Teddy, that's why they voted Yea, slack-jawed rube this Josie is, I'll tell ya.

McCain & MD Josie are sockets of succubus.

They just jaw-bone to their respective crowds, giving Bushisms.

Too bad we see this smoke & mirror game of the rube-i-cans.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Curious: McCain was the only one who didn't show up for the Medicare vote. Curioser still: this vote took place on a weekday. I know McCain likes his weekends off. Now tell me, how can the McCain camp POSSIBLY spin this to their advantage? Right after he accused of Obama's flip-flip on FISA, though he himself would have taken the same position (Yes, Obama is a flip-flopper. Yes, I know I would have voted yes for the FISA bill too. But isn't CONSISTENTLY being wrong on a position much more admirable in a leader than being only wrong only PART of the time)?

Kennedy came back from BRAIN SURGERY and CANCER treatments against the advice of his doctors. Maybe the McCain camp can produce a doctor's note that he was having a lobotomy. That would make perfect sense.

Posted by: Mia | July 10, 2008 3:34 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Josie should be thanking the first 9 R senators for voting with the D's. The 2nd 9 was playing CYA. Alexander, Cornyn, Isaccson, and Chambliss could see the writing on the wall. KBH could see either a VP or GOV after her name in future so she did not want to be on the wrong side. I hope all their constituents remember this vote in November.

Posted by: JCB from ARK | July 10, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy got up out of a sick bed to vote; McCain couldn't be bothered to get out of Cindy's bed to vote on this important issue. He's proved he doesn't give a rap for seniors!

Posted by: joshuasgrandma | July 10, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Bizzare. The Texas Medical Association PAC made a BIG deal out of withdrawing its endorsement of Cornyn for re-election after he stonewalled the June vote. Now that Kennedy's heroic appearance made Cornyn's postition irrelavant (and his vote meaningless), the TMA is singing his praises for something he had nothing to do with passing and everything he had to do with obstructing. Sheesh. I hope these guys are better at medicine than they are at politics.

Posted by: Stonecreek | July 10, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

You all are missing the simple reason McCain missed the vote.

Kennedy (who walked in with who? --Obama) pulled a surprise on the Republicans. He made the 60th vote.

McCain stayed out on the campaign trail so he wouldn't have to vote against cloture, assuming that there would be no real vote. That left him out in the cold and unable to switch with the other nine GOP CYA-types.

Nice maneuver, Ted! Way to get R done!

Posted by: mikeinmidland | July 10, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

This is a Presidential candidate who only cares about the Presidential election and not about the senior citizens. I am one of those seniors and am deeply disappointed with Sen. McCain.. If he were President today, I bet he would say he would veto this bill... Why should he worry when he & his wife are worth millions!!!


Posted by: Satch | July 10, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

So which Flip! Flop! Barack Hussein Obama
or Amnesty John McCain is the biggest one
and the Greatest Liar of all Times,after
Liar in Chief George W Bush and VP Draft
Dodger Cheney? Stay Tuned As There Is More
Lies and Flips! and Flops! and Waffles And
Pure BS yet to come from Obama and McCain.
Throw Obama and McCain under the Bus and
RE-DO The Primaries!

Posted by: Sandy5274 | July 10, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

People like 'Sandy5274' are the ones that need to be thrown under the bus.Hey,Sandy,lay off the martinis,the Cuban cigars,and the self-righteous attitudes and contribute something valuable to this discussion.Plus,you use too many capital letters to please your junior high school grammar teacher or anyone else.Stupidity will always have its place in the system.Enjoy it;you are its valedictorian. Best wishes to Senators Obama and McCain as they pursue real life solutions to real world problems.Respond to me,Sandy,if you have the beef.

Posted by: Biscuit | July 10, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Frank Booth | July 9, 2008 11:28 PM Like the author is too busy to realize April was 3 months ago.

READ:THERE IS A SINGLE LINE THROUGH THE TWO.

but Josie... they only voted that way because Kennedy dragged himself off his deathbed.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 9, 2008 7:26 PM SLIME-WAD!!

Posted by: Oscar | July 9, 2008 11:38 PM
No wonder the poor man is afraid to cast any vote these days. Give him a break!!!
I HOPE THAT IS A SAECASTIC COMMENT. IF NOT YOU ARE RIGHT ON THE LINE WITH mcbrainless!!

Here is his voting record on veterans' issues (that is, when he bothered to show up 40% of the time to vote):

22 May 2008 - expressed opposition and did not bother to show up to vote on Webb's GI Bill

September 2007 - voted against another bill that would have mandated adequate rest for troops between combat deployments

On a needed $1.5 billion increase for vets medical services for FY 2007 (to be funded through closing corporate tax loopholes) he voted no - also voted no on a trust fund to bolster under-budgeted vets hospitals

May 2006 - voted against a $20 billion allotment for expanding swamped veterans medical facilities

April 2006 - he was one of 13 Senate Republicans who voted against an amendment to provide $430 million for veterans outpatient care

March 2004 - voted against and helped defeat on a party-line vote a $1.8 billion reserve for veterans medical care (also funded by closing tax loopholes)
MAD (McCain Assured Destructions)
The only things I'm angry about right now is the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and the price of gasoline. I don't see John "The Beer Man" McCain doing anything to help me with that trifecta. My sense is the women who are real Democrats will gravitate back to Obama because they pay the bills and they've had enough of Republican "trickle up" economics


Posted by: Katerina Deligiannis | July 11, 2008 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, stop whining!
McCain cares deeply about us and all our petty little troubles. Sure, he does.

Posted by: Sherirux | July 11, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I just don't see how McBush and the Repugnants can win this Nov;as a physician I am O-U-T-R-A-G-E-D that that this had to come through only after a second vote with the help of Sen Kennedy having to get out of his sick bed !
The Repubs have been enticing us medical professionals for D-E-C-A-D-E-S by dangling out the "promise" of 'TORT-REFORM' - -
Hey, Josie Williams, MD - President - Texas Medical Association, your comment is laughable; HAVE YOU NO SHAME ??!!

Posted by: AMIGO | July 11, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

McCain has the worst attendance for voting in the Senate and had even before he was campaigning. Do we need a part-time president? McCain did not even show up for the GI Bill vote - which he opposed!

Yep - seniors should beware of McCain and vets should beware of Republicans wearing lapel flag pins, especially.

Posted by: Utahreb | July 11, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I happen to have a condition called Spastic Dysphonia and it means unless I get regular injections in my vocal cords I have trouble speaking. I go to UT Southwestern here in Dallas for the injections. I am grateful for this treatment. The fact that a cut in payments to doctors put my treatment in real jeopardy is not easy to swallow. I'm indeed happy that this bill was passed. This was the right thing to do. Thanks to all the Senators who voted for the bill!!!

Posted by: Martha | July 11, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Golly, WOW! Maybe if that lame, TubofGuts Teddy had shown just a tiny bit of courage while MaryJo was taking her last breaths she'd be here to applaud that pathetic puke's little bit of drama along with all of you other liberal twits. Big F'ing Deal. Somebody dresses him, drives him to the handicapped drop off spot, wheels him to the chamber, where he waddles over and casts another vote for big government. He can't drop dead soon enough for millions who know him for the drunken adulterous pig he always was when he had the strength to play that game. The only really amazing thing is the number of perpetual morons there are in Massachusetts.

Posted by: DB8r | July 11, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Wake up all medicare and social security voters, John McSame does not care anything about you and come NOV. YOU SHOULD RETURN THE FAVOR BY MAKING SURE OBAMA WINS IN A LANDSLIDE VICTORY.

Posted by: Buckeye | July 12, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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