September 04, 2018

Warren Delivers Floor Speech Honoring Senator John McCain

"...At a time where character and integrity are hopelessly under siege, the entire nation mourns the loss of a public servant who lived his life with courage and conviction."

Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered a speech today on the Senate floor in which she paid tribute to the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).  In her remarks, Senator Warren reflected on her personal relationship with Senator McCain and praised him for his strength, maverick spirit and unwavering commitment to his country.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
September 4, 2018

I rise today with a heavy heart to pay tribute to a true American hero. My friend and my colleague, John McCain.

To know John was to know a man who was fiercely devoted to his family, his constituents and his country.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his loved ones during this difficult time.

As a nation, we all share in the sense of emptiness his passing has left behind. But we also share a profound sense of gratitude for the life John lived and the legacy of service and unwavering commitment he's left us to cherish.

Many Americans felt a personal connection to John McCain. Our men and women in uniform always knew he was on their side - he was one of them. John understood better than anyone what it meant to send people into combat. So much of his work in the Senate was devoted to making sure that our troops got the training, the equipment, and the pay that they needed.

Last year I had the honor of traveling with John on one of his final trips to the Middle East. I had the chance to see how deeply revered he was by everyone in uniform. They all knew the story.

They knew how John McCain, the war hero, spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. How when offered abrupt release less than a year after his Navy jet was shot out of the air, John McCain refused to be released while his brothers were still in captivity.

How he was isolated, and tortured and beaten so badly that he carried the physical consequences of his loyalty to our country with him for the rest of his life.

How he could have avoided it all but endured out of love and loyalty to his fellow service-members.  

Yeah, they knew the story and every single service-member we saw treated John like a celebrity rock star - and that's because he was.

John was a deeply principled man. I had the honor of working with John closely in the fight to re-install Glass Steagall, and boy was it a fight. Throughout the entire battle John would tease me about pulling my weight and "getting this thing done", as he would say. "Show some fight girl", "don't tell me you're afraid, get in there - throw some punches." That was John's approach in life - if you're going to be in a fight, you had better give it your all.

Don't get me wrong - John and I disagreed on many things, and sometimes quite forcefully.  But even when we disagreed, I always respected that his heart was focused on doing what he believed was right for the American people. I remember expressing to John my views on the most effective strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan - and that there are simply some problems that cannot be solved through military action alone, we can't simply fight our way to peace and we need to bring our troops home. Respectfully, John would disagree and then proceed to energetically walk me through why he believed in the benefits of staying longer.  

Democrat or Republican, foreign leader or President of the United States, John McCain would go toe to toe with anyone to fight for what he thought was right.  He applied these principles to his service to our country, in his commitment to the people of Arizona, and in his abiding love and defense of the American people. And at a time where character and integrity are under siege, the entire nation mourns the loss of a public servant who lived his life with courage and conviction.

John ran the Armed Services Committee with an iron fist, but also with respect for the importance of bipartisanship and a basic sense of fairness no one could ever ignore.  If you came to the table, ready, and prepared to work, John made sure that you were heard. There were so many occasions where John would jump in while I was questioning a witness because John was listening and he would hear how the questions were being dodged and disregarded.  His admonishment to the witness was like a whip. "If you can't come up with better answers what are you here for?"

I count it a blessing to have had the honor to serve with Senator John McCain in the United States Senate. If there ever was a true American patriot, John McCain was that patriot. I'll miss his strength, I'll miss his maverick spirit, but most of all I'll miss his kindness.

I yield the floor.