McConnell's announcement amounted to another setback for GOP efforts, promoted by President Donald Trump, to repeal and replace "Obamacare" after years of promises. McConnell issued his statement not long after McCain's office disclosed that he had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye and had been advised by his doctors to stay in Arizona next week to recover.
With McConnell's health-care legislation already hanging by a thread in the Senate with no votes to spare, McCain's absence meant it would become impossible for the majority leader to round up the votes needed to move forward with the bill next week as planned.
"While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act," said McConnell.
Even before McConnell's announcement, the health-care bill's fate looked shaky in the Senate. Besides two announced GOP "no" votes from moderate Susan Collins of Maine and conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky, at least a half-dozen other Republican senators were withholding support from or have reservations about the bill.