U.S. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee seems to want a wait and see approach on renaming a building in Washington, D.C. after the late Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said the debate is a way for U.S. Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. to score political points against Republicans. Schumer’s endgame — he wants to portray the GOP as racist, Gill said.
As Time reported this week, a proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain is floating around the U.S. Senate. The name Russell refers to the late Georgia U.S. Sen. Richard Russell Jr., whom the website described as “a Southern segregationist Democrat.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly wants a bipartisan committee to find a less grandiose way honor McCain. Members of the U.S. Senate can best do that, McConnell said, by naming a conference room in McCain’s honor or hanging a portrait of him up on a wall.
But Schumer’s seemingly single-minded focus is to rename the Russell Building.
Gill said Schumer is not doing this to honor McCain.
“He’s doing this because he wants to stir up political trouble,” Gill said.
“Chuck Schumer and the other Democrats trying to push renaming the Russell Building were the same ones condemning and attacking John McCain, whom they now apparently revere, when he was running for president.”
Schumer’s goal, Gill went on to say, is more about creating controversy and boxing Republicans in.
“Stripping the name of Russell off is trying to play the game of saying ‘If the Republicans don’t take his name off then it’s racism,’ the same way they are selectively trying to use memorials and statues to play the race card,” Gill said.
“Republicans shouldn’t play the Chuck Schumer game.”
Meanwhile, Alexander spokeswoman Ashton Davies sent some of her boss’ past quotes on the matter to The Tennessee Star.
In those quotes, Alexander said McCain himself wouldn’t have wanted anything rushed through.
“He thought everything should be done in regular order,” Alexander said.
“He voted against the health insurance bill because he thought it didn’t go through the right process. So what he would say if he were able is that was very nice of you to think of me, but do it through the regular order. Think about all the things you need to think about. Take it through the committee, let everybody have a say, and then make a decision.”
No one in outgoing U.S. Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s office returned repeated requests for comment Thursday. The Time article said if members of the public don’t watch the proceedings then senators won’t feel pressure to rename the building this quickly.
According to Time, ‘that’s why Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is retiring at the end of this term, noted McCain is popular now. ‘Who would want to vote against naming a building after somebody who just passed away?’” the website quoted him as asking.
Gill, meanwhile, said most people traditionally wait until a body is buried before these type conversations occur. No one has thus far, for instance, named a building in Washington D.C. after former U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Daniel Inouye, who are both war heroes, Gill said.
Gill advanced another way to honor McCain.
“What if President Trump proposed naming the (border) wall after John McCain? Would the Democrats quickly embrace that and fund the $26 billion to pay for it?” Gill asked.
“Call their bluff. Let’s name the wall after John McCain. Will the Democrats immediately move to name it and then fund it?”
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