Schumer: McCain Said to Me, 'Let’s Get Immigration Reform Done’

By Susan Jones | July 26, 2017 | 5:50am EDT
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he couldn't have given a better speech than Sen. John McCain did on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, when McCain called for a return to regular order and bipartisanship. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( – Praising Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now battling brain cancer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said McCain is thinking beyond the health care bill.

“You know, I love the man,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference on Tuesday, after the Senate vote on a motion to proceed to a health care bill that is open to amendments.

“He's a great man," Schumer said of McCain. "We've been close friends. He even said to me when I called him this weekend, ‘Let's get immigration reform done,’ so he's thinking of the future. As you know, he and I worked on that [2013 comprehensive immigration reform] bill. And it was great to see him back, strong as he was.”

Schumer said he “could have written the same speech” that McCain delivered on the Senate floor Tuesday, when McCain called for a return to regular order, including committee hearings, to produce a bipartisan health care bill.

“But the idea of regular order, and the idea that this bill is not a very good bill, both came out brilliantly in McCain's speech, which was much better than any speech any Democrat could have given,” Schumer said.

Schumer said he hopes McCain’s speech “signals to every one of us that maybe we should get back to regular order, and I couldn't think of a better place to start than this bill.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now battling brain cancer, pleads for a return to bipartisanship on health care and other pressing matters on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

McCain’s speech was both a reflection on his long Senate career and a call for bipartisanship.

“I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years,” McCain said. He called it “the most important job I have had in my life.” He pointed to former colleagues – “true statesmen, giants of American politics” – who held different views and serious disagreements about how to serve the nation.

“But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

McCain decried the current partisan, “tribal” deliberations that “aren’t producing much for the American people,” and he said both sides bear responsibility.

He said “incremental progress” and compromise may not be exciting, “But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours.”

McCain said the American political system accounts for imperfections and “individual strivings” and must be preserved, “even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’”

‘To hell’ with ‘bombastic loudmouths’

In calling for humility and cooperation, McCain took aim at “bombastic loudmouths.”

Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.

Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.

We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done.

McCain said Republicans haven’t found a health care solution. In fact, all they’ve managed to do is “make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.”

McCain said he voted for the motion to proceed to allow for continued debate, but he will not vote for the bill as it currently stands. “It’s a shell of a bill right now,” he said.

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