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Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash

Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash

A push to rename a Senate office building after the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVietnam veteran gives Cindy McCain his war medallion Senate chaplain thanks God for ‘gift’ of McCain Senate drapes McCain’s desk in black cloth MORE (R-Ariz.) is facing political headwinds on Capitol Hill, from Republican lawmakers.

Sens. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFlake: I’ll be the first Republican co-sponsor of resolution to rename Senate building after McCain Political world mourns John McCain Schumer introducing resolution to name Senate office building after McCain MORE (D-N.Y.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell demurs on renaming Senate building after McCain Trump endorses Arizona governor ahead of primary Arizona GOP Senate candidate compares political correctness to cancer days after McCain’s death MORE (R-Ariz.) are working on a resolution that would rename the Russell Senate Office Building, named in honor of former Democratic Sen. Richard Brevard Russell, after McCain.

But the proposal is facing skepticism, and in some cases outright opposition, threatening to inject partisan fighting into the chamber’s bipartisan mourning.


“Senator Russell was a well respected man from the South and up here too,” said GOP Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Treasury rules target blue-state workarounds to tax law | Senate approves sweeping defense, domestic spending bill | US imposes B in tariffs on Chinese goods | Panel narrowly approves consumer bureau pick Paul seeks to cut off Planned Parenthood funds via massive spending bill This week: Senate tries to avoid landmines on massive spending bill MORE (Ala.), adding that he was “a man of his time.”

“He was a well-respected senator,” Shelby said.

Russell, a Democratic senator from Georgia, is considered controversial because of his opposition to civil rights legislation.

Shelby noted that if reporters were going to judge Russell on his civil rights stance then they would also need to reevaluate the founding fathers.

“If you want to get into that you have to get into George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all of our—most of our founding fathers, maybe with the exception of Hamilton,” he said. “It’s easy to prejudge what they should have done.”

Shelby was one of several southern GOP senators who pushed back on the idea of taking Russell’s name off the Senate office building.

Georgia Sen. David Perdue — a Republican and close ally of Trump — touted Russell’s Senate work, saying on Tuesday that he was a “stalwart” of the military and involved in the Great Society, referring to the domestic program of former President Lyndon Johnson.

“This is a guy who was a giant of the Senate,” Perdue said. “So this renaming thing because of one issue, you know, is somewhat troubling. The fact that it’s been brought into this John McCain thing I think is inappropriate.”

GOP Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senators introduce bill to preserve ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions protections Energy Department clears ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports for fast approval GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE MORE (R-La.) told reporters that he would prefer to “find another way” to honor McCain.

“What I don’t want is to establish a precedent so that something named after John McCain is named after somebody else in the future,” Cassidy said.

The GOP pushback is the latest sign that what had emerged as a bipartisan idea in the immediate wake of McCain’s death is already losing momentum in the Senate, where McCain served for more than three decades.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate chaplain thanks God for ‘gift’ of McCain Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain’s DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony McConnell demurs on renaming Senate building after McCain MORE (R-Ky.) demurred on Monday when asked if he supports renaming the building after McCain.

He announced on Tuesday that he would create a bipartisan “gang” to make a decision on how the Senate honors McCain.

“The Senate is eager to work on concrete ways to … provide a lasting tribute to this American hero long after this week’s observances are complete,” McConnell said.

But he did not include renaming Russell among the possible options, instead using his Senate floor speech to highlight possibly renaming the Armed Services Committee room or hanging a McCain portrait in a room off the Senate floor.

Perdue said he supported McConnell’s decision to form a committee and that it was “premature” to discuss renaming Russell, one of three Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill.

“I’m predisposed to say that renaming that building is a serious issue, but I believe right now it is even premature to talk about that,” he said when asked if he would support renaming the building if that is what the panel recommends.

GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGOP senator warns Trump: Anyone who trash-talks McCain ‘deserves a whipping’ Lawmakers offer support for McCain after he discontinues cancer treatment IRS was right to include private-school credits in new SALT regulations MORE (R-Ga.) said McConnell’s panel was a “great idea” but declined to comment on Schumer’s resolution. GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP divided over midterm threat posed by Trump’s legal travails GOP on heels after Cohen plea, Manafort conviction Republicans warn Trump against Manafort pardon MORE (R-S.D), asked if he would support renaming the building, pointed to the process set up by McConnell.

“Well, I’m very much in favor of honoring Senator McCain,” Thune said. “How we do that exactly is something I think is something that we’re going to have a conversation about.”

Molly Hooper contributed.

Published at Tue, 28 Aug 2018 18:49:07 +0000