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John McCain tributes pour in; senator to lie in state

August 27, 2018

Sen. John McCain will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, congressional leaders announced Sunday, and governors ordered flags lowered across the nation as the country mourned the passing of a man all sides said transcended politics.

The push to rename one of the Senate office buildings in Washington after Mr. McCain also picked up steam, as lawmakers reached for fitting tributes to their colleague, who died Saturday after more than a year fighting brain cancer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, announced the honor of lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda just the 13th former senator to be so honored.

“The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service,” the Kentucky Republican said.

There are also plans for Mr. McCain to lie in state at the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday which would have been his 82nd birthday.

Memorial services are scheduled to be held on Thursday at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona and on Saturday at Washington National Cathedral in the District of Columbia. He is to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

He will be buried on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. Mr. McCain attended the academy, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and followed by his own son.

With 35 years in Congress including more than three decades in the Senate Mr. McCain built a massive legacy, as was clear from the sheer breadth of groups that rushed to claim him.

Immigrant rights activists, gun control groups, the pro-life movement and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals saw the unorthodox Arizona Republican as a champion of their causes.

So, too, did opponents of President Trump, who saw Mr. McCain as a valuable ally in their criticism of the current leader of the Republican Party even from thousands of miles away in Arizona, as he battled cancer. Indeed, it was Democrats who led the push to honor Mr. McCain with the renaming of one of the Senate’s three office buildings.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he wants to change the name of the Russell Senate Office Building, which stands catty-corner to the Capitol on Constitution Avenue. Sen. Richard Russell Jr. was a Democrat from Georgia who opposed the Civil Rights Act and racial desegregation.

Mr. Schumer said naming the building after Mr. McCain would preserve his legacy.

“I’d like, decades from now, little children to ask their parents, ‘Who was John McCain?’ And they’ll explain his sacrifice, his patriotism and, most of all, his fidelity to do the right thing as he saw it and when he did the wrong thing, to change,” Mr. Schumer said Sunday in New York City.

Sen. Jeff Flake, Mr. McCain’s colleague from Arizona, said Sunday he wants to be the first Republican co-sponsor on Mr. Schumer’s resolution.

“I think that that would be a fitting tribute,” Mr. Flake said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “There are many other things that we need to do, but that’s a good one. John McCain had his office just right near mine in the Russell building that’s where he was his entire time.”

Flags were also lowered to half-staff at the U.S. Capitol and the White House, and at other locations across the country from Arizona to Wisconsin and Oregon to Maryland.

“He has long stood as a shining example of doing the right thing and standing up for his principles even and especially when the going gets tough,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.

Mr. McCain’s death also sparked warm comments from political leaders around the globe, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr. McCain has requested that former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush opponents of the senator during the 2008 and 2000 presidential campaigns respectively deliver eulogies for the senator.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt.”

Mr. Bush, the 43rd president, said Mr. McCain was a “man of deep conviction,” a “patriot of the highest order” and “a friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Trump offered his condolences to the late senator’s family via Twitter, and flags at the White House were lowered to half-staff.

But Mr. Trump, with whom Mr. McCain clashed bitterly at times, is not expected to attend the senator’s funeral.

Dave Boyer contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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