Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday, throwing into doubt when and if he will return to Washington to resume his duties in the Senate.
The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said tests revealed “a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma” associated with a blood clot above his left eye that was removed last week.
“The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team,” said the hospital in a statement. “Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.”
McCain, 80, was treated for the blood clot last week. His office announced last Saturday that he would be away from the Senate all of this week.
“The Senator’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent,” the hospital said in its statement.
Colleagues from both parties swiftly reacted to McCain’s announcement Wednesday evening with sadness and encouragement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued the following statement: “John McCain is a hero to our Conference and a hero to our country. He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life. The entire Senate family’s prayers are with John, Cindy and his family, his staff, and the people of Arizona he represents so well.
“We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.”
McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam and a two-time presidential candidate, is known for his unfiltered opinions and willingness to buck Republican party orthodoxy. Along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., perhaps his closest friend in the Senate, McCain has become one of the leading Republican critics of President Donald Trump, particularly on issues of foreign policy and national security.
In a written statement she posted on Twitter, McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, said the news of her father’s illness has “affected every one of us in the McCain family.” She said they live with “anxiety about what comes next,” which they have endured before. McCain has a history of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.
She added, “it won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him.”
McCain’s absence from the Senate this week came as GOP leaders struggled to bring their failing push to rewrite the Affordable Care Act to a conclusion. Leaders had intended to vote on a bill this week, but postponed their plans late Saturday after McCain said he would be out recovering from the surgery to remove the blood clot.
On Monday, McConnell scrapped plans to vote on the bill altogether once it became clear it would not have the support to pass even with McCain in town to vote. After input from President Trump, McConnell is now weighing whether to vote on that bill anyway – or vote on a pure repeal of the ACA, which also does not have the votes to win passage.
McCain had been voicing skepticism about the GOP “repeal and replace” plan. It was unclear that he would ever get to yes on it.
In both of his presidential races, McCain dubbed his campaign bus the “Straight Talk Express.” To the delight of reporters who traveled with him in 2000, he was accessible and unfiltered, a scrappy underdog who relished needling the GOP establishment.
McCain lost a bitter Republican primary campaign to George W. Bush in 2000 and then came back to win the nomination in 2008 only to be defeated in the general election by Barack Obama. That year, he boosted the political career of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, whom he named as his vice-presidential running mate.