>> The Vice President votes in the affirmative, and the motion is agreed to.
The Republican health plan clears a crucial hurdle in the Senate, but success is still far from certain. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where the Senate just narrowly voted to begin debate on the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
This is a big victory for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump. Had they fallen short, it would have effectively been the end of the party's seven-year quest to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. But now the hard work begins. The party needs to find consensus on what should replace a law that currently provides coverage to more than 20 million Americans.
Republicans getting a boost from Senator John McCain, battling a severe brain tumor, flying in from Arizona against his doctors advice, to cast his vote in favor of beginning debate.>>
>> McCain greeted with applause when he entered the chamber but predicting that the Republican only effort with ultimately fail, saying he wouldn't vote for the bill as it's currently written.
>> We're getting nothing done.>> Mr. Peters.>> No.>> The measure squeaking through by a vote of 51 to 50 with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining all Democrats to vote against it. Two dozen protesters chanting kill the till as the vote began.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, playing up the drama, engaged in an intense ten minute discussion with McConnell on the senate floor as the outcome hung in the balance. Trump predicting his Republicans will ultimately craft a replacement that voters will love but acknowledging that they have little room for error.
>> Healthcare is always difficult because you have to weave a very, very narrow path, like a quarter of an inch wide.>> Now that debate has begun, Republicans face the same divisions that have bedeviled them for the past two months. Conservatives pushing for a more dramatic rollback of the governments role in the health sector, which makes up one-sixth of the US economy.
Moderates meanwhile worrying that that could leave millions of Americans without any sorta of health coverage whatsoever. So there's no guarantee they'll get anything passed, this whole effort could still fall apart. Democrats meanwhile are sure to use Tuesdays vote as attact ad fodder in next years elections. McConnell's hoping to have all this wrapped by the end of the week, but the impact will be certain to be felt for years to come.
>> Accepted for a long time