The top-ranked members in the Senate heaped praise on the late Sen. John McCain Monday, the Arizona Republican who died over the weekend following a year-long battle with brain cancer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the floor of the chamber to speak about their former colleague, who passed away at age 81 and who served his country for 60 years in the Navy, House, and Senate.
Snippets from their remarks:
“On Saturday evening, a great loss echoed throughout our country. Six decades of patriotic service came to an end.”
“The Senate won’t be the same without John McCain. I think it’s fair to say the passion that John brought to his work was unsurpassed in this body. In more than 30 years as a senator, he never failed to marshal a razor-sharp wit, a big heart, and of course a fiery spirit. When John found an issue the same way you did, you knew you had just found your most stalwart ally. You would thank your lucky stars. Because when you found yourself on the other side of that table, as I think all of us learned, you were in for a different kind of unforgettable experience. Either way, serving alongside John was never a dull affair.”
“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 unites us than divides us. That we should be able to differ completely on policy and stay united in love of our country.”
McConnell added that McCain gave “moral support” to “this body and this country for so long. His memory will continue to give it because while John proudly served with us as a senator for Arizona, he was America’s hero all along.”
McConnell then talked about McCain’s Naval service, during which he was a POW for five and a half years during the Vietnam War. He was badly beaten and tortured during that time.
“He never gave up the ship,” McConnell said.
“I will miss one of the very finest gentleman with whom I’ve had the honor to serve. But we will not forget him.
“Knowing his prognosis prepared us for the inevitable, but it has not softened the blow. We feel a great and inexpressible loss. I know I do. But I also feel lucky that I was able to call this great man a friend.”
Schumer described how the pair forged a “real tight and lasting friendship [that] emerged from our collaboration on immigration reform” when they worked together during the Bush administration.
“I can truly say that the time we spent authoring and passing immigration reform were some of the proudest days in politics for me and rest of the Gang of 8, in no small part because the success was shared with one great legislative leader, John McCain.”
“He was unafraid to take on presidents, he was unafraid to take on his own party, he was equally parts and funny and furious, foul-mouthed and statesmanlike. He could put the temper in temperament. He was a brave and honest man. He was a patriot.”
“As you go through life, you meet a few truly great people. John McCain was one of them.”
Schumer also echoed what he said Sunday night, asking that the Russell Senate Office Building be renamed after McCain.
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