Senators who knew John McCain well for his principled stances and even his occasional outbursts saluted their longtime colleague Monday, as President Trump finally relented and put the White House flag at half-staff.
Senators who served alongside McCain, an joined him on congressional delegations to global hotspots sang his praises – and some even allowed for criticism of his rebellious and confrontational streak.
‘Until the very end he served his country. Until the very end,’ said Sen. Jeff Flake, now the senior senator in McCain’s home state of Arizona.
McCain’s Senate desk was draped in cloth and marked by a white roses on Monday
Flake, who has become an outspoken critic of president Trump, used his floor remarks to ding Trump, who acknowledged ‘differences’ with McCain in a statement he finally released honoring the Vietnam hero. McCain asked for Trump not be present at his funeral.
‘He was America’s hero all along,’ said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who clashed with McCain over campaign finance legislation that McCain championed and McConnell spent years trying to kill.
Sen. James Inhofe, a fellow Armed Services Committee member, noted the times McCain flew around Oklahoma to campaign for him in a non-airconditioned private plane that Inhofe flew.
‘He was America’s hero all along,’ said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of McCain
Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer of New York has called for renaming the Senate Russel Office Building after McCain
Speaking of his Senate career, Inhofe said, McCain was ‘kind of a mean guy. A lot of people didn’t like John McCain. He wasn’t the most lovable person to be around. But he was the fighter. He never shied away from a good fight. He was passionate for the causes that he believed in,’ Inhofe said.
McConnell observed: ‘John and I stood shoulder to shoulder on some of the most important issues to each of us, and we also disagreed entirely on huge subjects that helped define each of our careers,’ the Washington Examiner noted.
‘John treated every issue with the intensity and seriousness that the legislative process deserves. He would fight like mad to bring the country closer to his vision of the common good, but when the day’s disputes were over, that very same man was one of our most powerful reminders that so much more divides us, that we should be able to differ completely on policy and stay united in love of our country.’
Minority leader Sen. Charles Schumer has called for renaming the Senate Russel Office Building after McCain. McCain has an office there, and regularly used the short walk or subway ride from there to the Capitol to chat with reporters and button-hole colleagues. Russel was an avowed segregationist and longtime Senator.
An impromptu memorial of flowers and a U.S. Navy officers hat stands outside of the Russell Senate Office Building in honor of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) August 27, 2018 in Washington, DC
President Donald Trump noted the ‘differences’ with McCain in the statement he finally released Monday afternoon
The US flag flies at half staff over the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 27 August 2018. The flag was lowered to half staff yesterday in honor of the passing of John McCain, but was back to full staff this morning, and then lowered again
‘We can honor him by trying to carry out the principles he lived by,’ Schumer said on the Senate floor.
‘We can try, as he did, to put country before party. We can try, as he always did, to speak truth to power. And we can try, as he summoned us to try, to restore the Senate to its rightful place in our national political life.’
McCain is to lie in state in the Capitol Friday. The tributes followed the perceived snub when the White House flag returned to full staff on Monday, following McCain’s Saturday death, only to returned to half-staff later in the afternoon.
Trump has repeatedly faulted McCain for his dramatic ‘thumbs-down’ on the GOP Obamacare repeal bill, and mocked his Vietnam capture during the campaign. McCain also passed on a copy of the infamous golden showers dossier to former FBI Director James Comey after the 2016 campaign, and has been among the foremost critics of Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
Senate chaplain Barry Black, a Navy rear admiral, observed in his opening prayer that McCain had a ‘sacrificial willingness to take the road less traveled, to rise above partisanship, to provide a profile in courage and to give his life in service.’