GOP urges go-slow approach on McCain tributes, pumps brakes on renaming building

August 28, 2018

Republican leaders rejected a rush to name a building after Sen. John McCain, saying Tuesday that they want to form a committee to study the appropriate level of tribute.

The “gang,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it, will be tasked with suggesting the best way to honor Mr. McCain, who died Saturday after more than 30 years in the Senate.

They 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 Senator McCain would have wanted it,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Mr. Schumer, immediately after Mr. McCain’s death was announced Saturday, suggested renaming a Senate office building that currently bears the name of former Sen. Richard Russell, a Democratic segregationist whose history is now a black mark for 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 Senator McCain and we’re going to work to see that can get done in a bipartisan way,” he said.