Republican leaders rejected a rush to name a building after Sen. John McCain, saying Tuesday that they will instead form a committee to study the appropriate level of tribute.
The committee — or “gang,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it — will have the tasked of suggesting the best way to honor Mr. McCain, who died Saturday after more than 30 years in the Senate.
Mr. McConnell pumped the brakes on Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s proposal, which has gained steam among Democrats, to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after Mr. McCain. Mr. McConnell said he hadn’t been consulted about that plan before Mr. Schumer announced it, and said it breaks with the tradition of the Senate to wait for “a calmer environment” in which to judge legacies.
The Kentucky Republican, who both worked with and against Mr. McCain over the decades, said he’ll form a “gang” of senators after Labor Day and ask them to report back.
“Hopefully they’ll come back with a unanimous recommendation,” he told reporters.
Earlier in the day, speaking on the Senate floor, he’d suggested either posting a portrait in the chamber’s ceremonial reception room, or renaming the office of the Armed Services Committee after Mr. McCain. The late senator, a one-time Navy aviator, had been chairman of the committee.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said the Senate needs to “do this carefully” and to reach agreement on any tribute.
“Doing this in a collaborative and deliberative way, I hope, is how Sen. McCain would have wanted it,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Immediately after Mr. McCain’s death was announced Saturday, Mr. Schumer suggested renaming the Senate office building that bears the name of former Sen. Richard Russell, a Democratic segregationist whose history is now a blemish on his party.
Mr. Schumer said Tuesday he circulated a letter to colleagues promoting the idea along with Sen. Jeff Flake, who was Mr. McCain’s fellow Arizona Republican in the Senate.
“I think it’s the most appropriate way to honor Sen. McCain and we’re going to work to see that can get done in a bipartisan way,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who had been Mr. McCain’s closest ally and friend in the Senate, said if he had his way, “I’d name the Capitol after him if I could.”
He then quipped about another tribute for Mr. McCain, who, while a fierce supporter of rank-and-file troops, was a terror to Pentagon officials who appeared before the Armed Services Committee — particularly over wasteful spending: “I’d like to name the Pentagon after him, just to get back at them.”
Mr. Graham said Mr. McCain’s last requests in their final conversations together were to give him a good send-off, to pass a new round of sanctions on Russia, to renew work on an immigration deal and to keep dogging the Pentagon.
Mr. McCain, who will lie in state in the Capitol on Friday ahead of a weekend burial at the U.S. Naval Academy, also had warnings to President Trump about leaving Afghanistan too soon, and bungling negotiations over Syria.
The two senators also talked about the way to approach Mr. Trump — to whom Mr. Graham managed to be close, even as the president and Mr. McCain frequently feuded.
Mr. Graham said Mr. McCain’s advice on that amounted to being cooperative, while sticking to principles: “Help him when you can, just don’t get sucked into all this [expletive].”
The South Carolina Republican also said Mr. McCain’s targets shouldn’t think they’re home free because they’ve outlasted the late senator.
That is particularly true for Russia, where a member of the federation council’s Foreign Affairs Committee said “the enemy is dead,” and wished that God “accept his dark soul.”
Mr. Graham told Russians not to get complacent.
“John has created a long line of people that are coming after you,” he said.
© Copyright (c) 2018 News World Communications, Inc.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.