As the nation prepares for the funeral of late Senator John McCain, who will be laid out in repose in the Capitol Building until the time of the service, several members of the Senate have proposed renaming the Russell Senate Office Building to honor the long-time senator. The idea was first submitted by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and was later echoed by House member Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) and Jeff Flake (R-Az), along with Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla).
The members of Congress who are making the proposal indicates that this is a bipartisan effort to honor McCain for his military service and years in Congress. McCain was known for a quick wit and staunch dedication to personal principles, but that determination and willingness to speak his mind made him many adversaries along the way. While the recent turmoil in Washington has clearly included a battle between McCain and President Trump, the decision to change the name of the Russell Senate Office Building will largely be in the hands of McCain’s colleagues in Congress. The renaming will not require Trump’s signature to be made effective.
The building was named after former Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia in 1972. He served in the Senate for over 40 years, according to his congressional biography. His legacy includes much successful work in the energy and defense components of government, but was a staunch advocate of maintaining the segregation laws that were changed during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Russell also co-authored the book “Southern Manifesto” in the 1950s addressing his personal position regarding desegregation. This could be a political win for the Democrats after the process of renaming is said and done.
Sen. John McCain was probably the most recognized of all Vietnam War heroes, largely based on his time as a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton until the last days of the war. He immediately returned to Arizona and began the march that led to his 50 years in Congress, all of which were served as a senator. In addition, he has been a stalwart regarding U.S. foreign military policy and protecting veterans. He is actually one of the few members of Congress with a distinguished military career in addition to serving continually in the Senate representing his home state of Arizona.
While McCain’s republican colleagues have not weighed in on the proposal as yet, there is still a concern that the renaming of the Russell Senate Office Building could still be politicized to some degree. However, arguments against the move could easily backfire on McCain’s adversaries even within his own party for being so open and honest as the crucial 2018 mid-term election seasons begins.