Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has urged his fellow lawmakers to compromise to end congressional dysfunction and pass productive legislation. McCain also offered a withering critique of President Donald Trump, asserting that Congress was not beholden to his administration.
On Aug. 31, McCain reflected in an opinion article published in The Washington Post on a white nationalist rally earlier in the month that had escalated into violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"There is nothing in their hate-driven racism that can match the strength of a nation conceived in liberty and comprising 323 million souls of different origins and opinions who are equal under the law," McCain wrote of the white nationalists in the op-ed.
On Aug. 12, the Charlottesville rally turned deadly when alt-right member James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly plowed his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racist counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, according to WJLA.
"Most of us share Heather Heyer's values, not the depravity of the man who took her life ... Our shared values define us more than our differences," McCain continued. "And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again."
The Arizona senator asserted that Congress had become too dysfunctional to help unify a polarized nation and called for his colleagues to "return to regular order."
"We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important," McCain wrote. The senator added that regular order meant "pragmatic problem solving from even the most passionate partisans."
Congress will return from its August recess on Sept. 7. With only a small window of time before they break for another recess, lawmakers will have to pass a 2018 fiscal budget to avoid a government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling limit and provide disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The GOP-majority in Congress also aims to forge a tax code bill and potentially make another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, NBC News reports.
McCain asserted that his colleagues would have to approach these agenda items with mutual respect.
The Arizona senator then proceeded to slam Trump, describing him as "a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct."
"We must, where we can, cooperate with [Trump]," McCain continued. "But we are not his subordinates. We don't answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation."
On July 25, McCain made a similar call for a return to congressional order after voting to bring an ACA repeal up for debate in the Senate.
"We're not getting much done apart," McCain said after the vote, according to Business Insider. "I don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work."
On July 27, McCain cast a decisive vote against an ACA repeal bill. The senator asserted that one of the reasons he was against the measure was because he believed it was crafted in a process that did not meet regular order.
McCain, 81, is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for brain cancer. On Aug. 29, the senator celebrated his birthday with his family in Arizona, according to ABC News.
Sources: ABC News, Business Insider, NBC News, The Washington Post, WJLA / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine/Flickr, Inter-American Defense College/Flickr