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WASHINGTON — With Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, the Senate voted by a hair Tuesday to start debating Republican legislation to tear down much of the Obama health care law. The vote gives President Trump and GOP leaders a crucial initial victory but launches a weeklong debate promising an uncertain final outcome.

The 51-50 vote kept alive hopes of delivering on promises that countless Republican candidates have campaigned on for years — repealing President Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul. It also averted what would have been a blistering defeat for a party divided between fervent conservatives demanding the evisceration of Obama’s statute and centrists intent on not pulling coverage away from millions of Americans.

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