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Schumer remembers McCain as patriot, ‘always willing to reach across the aisle’

Senator Chuck Schumer Facebook Page
Sen. Charles Schumer talks about the late Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is remembering the late Sen. John McCain who died Saturday. Schumer has also been pressing to rename a Senate office building in McCain’s honor.

Schumer said McCain was a great man, a patriot and always willing to reach across the aisle.

"He would figure out what was right, and then figure out the politics after that," Schumer said. "Most politicians figure out the politics first and then decide whether they can afford to do what's right."

A few weeks before he died, Schumer said he was on the phone with McCain talking about the defense bill because, Schumer said, McCain cared deeply about the military. The bill was named after McCain.

“It’s going to be a dramatic help to Fort Drum," Schumer said. "It’s going to be a dramatic help to our drone base at Hancock. It helps this area. Lockheed Martin in Salina, our biggest employer, benefits from a increased defense bill as well. All of these are part of Sen. McCain’s legacy as well, a small part, but an important part."

Schumer remembers talking to McCain about the Republican health care bill in 2017. McCain famously gave a thumbs-down on the Senate floor, ending the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Schumer said in McCain’s office were pictures of McCain’s father and grandfather, both four-star admirals.

“It was sort of symbolic," Schumer said. "Here he was going to do a very tough thing and he was looking at what his ancestors would do. I think they hovered over him in a very positive and strong way.”

Efforts to rename the Russell Senate Office after McCain have stalled since Schumer first suggested it, but he said he is still hopeful. He said he has support from McCain’s fellow Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and McCain’s best friend in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.