McCain says he expects to return to Senate next month

John McCain
FILE--In this July 27, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCain says he hates the healthy diet his wife and daughter are forcing on him as he fights an aggressive form of brain cancer but expects to return to the Senate next month. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, file)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a radio interview Wednesday that he hates the healthy diet his wife and daughter are forcing on him as he fights an aggressive form of brain cancer but expects to return to the Senate next month.

McCain made the remarks in his first extended interview with Arizona media since his diagnosis last month. On KFYI radio’s Mike Broomhead show, the Republican said he’s facing a tough challenge but the best thing to do when facing adversity is to stay busy. He said plans to do just that during the August congressional recess.

“It’s a tough challenge, you know, of course,” McCain said. “But I’m getting the best care you could possibly have, I’m eating well, I’m feeling fine, getting plenty of exercise. I expect Congress to go out here pretty soon, and I’ll be ready to go back to work in September.”

McCain began chemotherapy and radiation treatment for glioblastoma on Monday. The senator said he plans meetings and regular travel this month.

His remarks came a week after he returned to the Senate and gave a rousing speech blasting partisanship and the one-sided push to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Days later, he cast the deciding vote that stopped GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “skinny repeal” bill.

McCain said Wednesday that he campaigned for “repeal and replace” of the health law and the Senate plan was repeal and “not replace.”

“What we were going to do, and its gets a little arcane, but take a ‘skinny bill’ as they called it and give it to a conference of House and Senate people,” McCain said. “With no input, no amendments, and then have them put out a product that was going to be an up-or-down vote in both House and Senate.

“I wanted us to have a full-fledged debate, amendments, go through committees,” he said. “That’s the way we should operate.”

McCain said he was buoyed by news that the Republican chairman of the Senate health committee and the top committee Democrat agreed to hold bipartisan hearings on a new push.

“It will be, I think, a consensus bill that comes out to the floor. That’s our only shot right now, honestly,” he said.

McCain said he wanted to protect Arizona’s Medicaid program and had three amendments in hand proposed by Gov. Doug Ducey. When it became clear they could not be added, he voted no.

“But, having said that, it is imploding in Arizona,” McCain said. “There’s only one provider per county, the premiums are going up, the deductibles are going up. So we have to fix it, but we have to fix it in the right way so that I protect the state of Arizona.”

At the end of the segment, McCain spoke of his life and his legacy.

“Look, I am the luckiest person that you will ever have on your show, ever,” McCain said. “And I am very aware of that, and I am very happy. For a guy who stood at the bottom of his class at the naval academy, we’ve come a hell of a long way.”