Still recovering from surgeries, Isakson returns to D.C. and casts ‘tie-breaking’ vote

WASHINGTON — Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has been absent from the U.S. Capitol for six weeks now, at home recovering from a pair of back surgeries related to a severe case of arthritis.

But he made an appearance in the Senate on Thursday for what happened to be one of the deciding votes on a family planning bill.

Republican leaders were just shy of the number of votes needed to begin debate on legislation to disapprove of an Obama-era rule that bars states from withholding family planning funding from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. So they waited for more than an hour for Isakson to get in from the airport and vote, which brought the tally to 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence, who accompanied Isakson into the Senate chamber, was then able to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Some reporters mused on Twitter that Isakson was brought in specifically to save the abortion measure after two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, voiced their opposition. It wouldn’t be the first time in Senate history that an ailing senator was brought in to rip a bill from the jaws of defeat.

But Isakson insisted that he didn’t plan to come in today to be the deciding vote but that it just happened that way. Here’s a transcript of what the Republican told reporters, made possible by our Superman of a colleague, Jamie Dupree:

“I was gonna try and make a trip back this week to begin to get my legs under me and recovery. I’m in the fifth week of about a 12-week rehab from my spinal surgery and I wanted to start getting all my routines back to normal and so I called and told them I think I could be back this week, and if I could vote I’d like to vote.

 

We didn’t know what at the time it would be but it turned out to be the vice president’s tie-breaker.”

Originally, some thought Isakson was going to need to fly in and cast one of the deciding votes on the House GOP’s health care bill. That legislation was ultimately deep-sixed, but Isakson said he would have been ready to vote after spending quite a bit of time watching the debate on C-SPAN while on the mend.

“I have watched the Congress of the United States on television for eight weeks trying to rehab from spinal surgery. I know more about it than I knew about it when I was here,” Isakson quipped.

While Isakson received his doctor’s approval to come up for the day, he isn’t yet cleared to return to D.C. full-time. But he promised he’d be back “as often as I can be back, which will be often.”

Isakson may need to make another trip to Washington as soon as next week. Senate Republicans may need his vote to break through another Democratic resistance effort — an expected filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. GOP leaders have threatened to execute what is known as the “nuclear option” to prevent such a Democratic blockade on high court picks.

“My option is always to be the team player. I’m on the team and I’ll be doing what Mitch needs me to do,” Isakson said earlier Thursday about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to CNN.

Read more: Johnny Isakson recovering from second back surgery in a month

Reader Comments 0

159 comments
Kathy George
Kathy George

Abortion is something I am strongly against ... I have had an Ectopic pregnancy and several miscarriages in my life time... and I use think that when there was incest, rape, severe abnormalities in the baby, and the mothers life in danger... that was a good reason for abortion.... but my heart always takes me to the place that says... IT IS NOT THIS BABIES FAULT!!! they didn't ask for this and they are helpless... so to me this is very tough... however... to use this, abortion , as a form of birth control is just not ok with me... there are too many people out there that can have children and would love to adopt......

Jim Richardson
Jim Richardson

How fortunate he had quality health care. I wonder what his deductible was? Can you say "thank you American tax payers"? If only the least of us was equal to him.

Sylvia Richardson
Sylvia Richardson

And I was giving him credit for being a "good guy" since he hadn't voted for recent bills! Wrong!

Eustace E Cromartie
Eustace E Cromartie

So he gets up and makes it here to ensure women can get health care. To make sure women can't get free breast cancer screenings. I bet he calls himself a Christian

Justin Hughes
Justin Hughes

They'll have medical care in prison too for you Johnny.

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson

Headline should read, "Male Senator with access to high-quality health care returns to D.C. to deny women adequate health care."

Mary Reynoso
Mary Reynoso

The Republicans will do anything to get what they want,

Shane Howell
Shane Howell

Georgia will re-elect Johnny's corpse when the time comes.

Bill Stockstill
Bill Stockstill

Building a hell of a Democratic Party, one vote at a time.

Andrea M Robinson
Andrea M Robinson

We didn't elect him to be a team player. We elected him to represent GA.

Carol E Hayes
Carol E Hayes

Ran a deceptive campaign that he was fully functional

Kathy Burton
Kathy Burton

Abortions are not health care and neither are birth control pills. No one should have to pay for your indiscretion. Pay for it yourself. The only birth fool-proof birth control is abstinence. It's also a great deterrent of STD's.

Andrea M Robinson
Andrea M Robinson

Exactly. Women should buy vibrators and leave men to handle their own "needs" until they want a baby!!! GOP HATES SEX! What a GREAT bumper sticker for 2018!

Patty Ellis
Patty Ellis

Hey Kathy, guess what? Oral contraceptives are used for other medical diagnoses, not just birth control. Knowledge is your friend. You are obviously savvy enough to use a computer, so just type "medical uses for oral contraceptives" into your favorite search engine and do some reading. You can also check out "medical indications for induced abortion" for extra credit.

Judy Gordon Green
Judy Gordon Green

Georgia this is further evidence we need to srop sending old white men to Washington. These old farts are out of touch with women's needs. You can bet he's getting the very best medical care for free, but women's medical needs are stymied by his kind.

David Taylor
David Taylor

Old Johnny loves socialized Medicine as long as it's for him and his family but it's not good for the rest of us. RIGHT you vomit liking Dog You !!!

Tracy Bumgarner
Tracy Bumgarner

You want to end abortions and cut disability and programs for children in poverty. You cannot do both. You will make this country like a third world place if you do this. You cannot be a pro lifer if you care only about fetuses. To be a pro lifer, you must advocate all stages from fetuses to eldery people.

Constance Rutledge
Constance Rutledge

Population culling appears to be the goal of the GOP. The elderly, poor, sick, & disabled are taking too many tax dollars from the super wealthy. That's why the ACA replacement plan would've given a $1 TRILLION tax cut to the upper crust while taking healthcare insurance away from 24 million. Oh yeah, that darn meals on wheels is just too damn expensive too. Meals on wheels could be funded for an entire year for what just ONE of trump's unnecessary weekly golf trips costs

Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley

Well Johnny, you just sealed your fate with me. I will actively work to get you defeated next election cycle!

Sam Hudson
Sam Hudson

He sealed his fate with me years ago.

Melvin Jones
Melvin Jones

Make no sense. Poor women deserve better. Women deserve better.

Leslie Johnson
Leslie Johnson

So wrong on so many levels! To say I am mad, doesn't even come close.

George Mccauley
George Mccauley

Brandy Tucker you have a filthy mouth and a bad attitude. No wonder you can't find a husband.

Pam Sheridan
Pam Sheridan

This was a sad day not a proud day \U0001f620

Leon Jackson
Leon Jackson

Johnny just stuck a knife into women's health. Especially those without health insurance. When are we going to get more progressive leadership from Georgia?

Maggie Kelley
Maggie Kelley

Encourage your friends in the 6th district to get out and vote!

Derrell Earl
Derrell Earl

Deciding women's healthcare issues... Bunk... No one is deciding, who can do what.... You'll just have to pay for it yourself... Abortions are not healthcare...There are plenty of clinics out there to take care of "Healthcare"...... Just like Judge Gorsuch, stopped woman for getting birth control.. No.. They just have to pay for it themselves.. God forbid , they would have to use their own money for birth control pills... May need to give up CATV or a cell phone if things are that tight .....

Heather Bryson
Heather Bryson

Then neither is Viagra. Pay for your limp penis yourself - it's not a medical issue!

Dann Brown
Dann Brown

What planned parenthood provides is easily as eligible for federal aid as viagra.

Hite Hubbuch
Hite Hubbuch

ONLY a Republican would get up from doctor-ordered bedrest and fly to another location just to cast a vote to restrict women's rights...