Editor's note: Shortly after 3 PM EST, the Senate voted 51-50, with a tie broken by Vice President Mike Pence, to begin the healthcare debate. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, returned from recent brain surgery to vote yes, but urged the body to return to the "old way" of doing business to create a bill based on compromise and open hearings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then put a strike-all bill on the floor, written in secret and not previously shared, with debate to follow. More updated and analysis to follow.)
The Senate is poised on the edge of a cliff where a vote late Tuesday will reveal if Republican senators are willing to preserve health coverage for tens of millions of Americans under Obamacare and Medicaid, or will gut those safety nets while giving the rich a major tax cut.
The body’s Republican and Democratic leaders offered conflicting versions of reality in opening remarks, hours before the body will reconvene on a motion to proceed with the House-passed bill to repeal Obamacare, gut Medicaid and reverse some taxes on the richest Americans. The Senate has proposed amendments that make even deeper cuts to Medicaid, reducing its budget by a third.
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