FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – The leadership of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy wish to add their support to the growing list of people calling for the renaming of the Russell Senate Office Building after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who passed away on Saturday at the age of 81 after a battle with brain cancer.
McCain earned the admiration of many Americans for his selfless military service during the Vietnam War, including a harrowing five-and-a-half years of torture as a POW, and was respected by his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his independent nature and efforts to promote bipartisan dialogue.
The Russell Building is named for Sen. Richard B. Russell, Jr., a Georgia Democrat who served in the Senate from 1933 to 1971. Regarded by his colleagues as a master of the Senate’s rules and procedures, Russell was a staunch opponent of racial desegregation and used his parliamentary skills to oppose civil rights legislation, including bills that banned lynching and poll taxes, as well as leading the southern senators’ opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After Sen. McCain passed, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed renaming the Russell Building in his honor. In a statement Saturday evening, Schumer said that while “nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain,” he would be introducing a resolution to rename the building “so that generations remember him.”
Support for removing Russell’s name had been growing before McCain’s death, and both Democrat and Republican Senators have voiced their support for the name change. McCain’s state colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), called the proposal “a fitting tribute,” and noted that McCain’s office had always been in the Russell Building.
“Sen. Schumer's effort to rename the Russell Building demonstrates the type of bipartisanship necessary to help heal our country,” said Bishop Garrison, Rainey Center co-founder and President.
“Sen. John McCain was far from a perfect man or politician, but his efforts to make amends for his shortcomings coupled with his unwavering patriotic spirit are representative of the highest values many Americans hold dear,” continued Garrison. “His imperfections at their very heart are what made him American. His tireless service to our nation, at times under the worst conditions imaginable, are what make him a political legend. Renaming a building in his honor can be a first step of many towards ending our nation's extreme partisanship and honor the example he set of working across the aisle.”
“Senator John McCain strove to live our highest American ideals,” said Rainey Center co-founder and CEO Sarah Hunt. “He defended them with his life. Unlike many politicians, he courageously reconsidered his positions, changed them, and when needed, apologized for his past mistakes and took corrective action.”
“Renaming the Russell Building the McCain Building is consistent with this aspect of his legacy,” added Hunt, who served on the McCain campaign’s New Mexico steering committee in 2000. “America, because of the leadership of citizens like Sen. McCain, continues to grow in order to achieve our national aims of democracy, dignity, and equality.”
“Sen. John McCain is the true hero of the Ukrainian people, the man who valued freedom and dignity foremost,” said Veronika Velch, Rainey Center Associate Fellow for National Security and former head of the Ukrainian Electoral Commission. “Sen. McCain stood with the Ukrainian nation against dictatorship and Kremlin evil. His passing is a loss for everyone who fights for justice and human rights.”
The Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy is a post-partisan, 501(c)3 public policy research organization and incubator for diverse, non-traditional emerging policy leaders, named after Joseph Rainey, a former slave who was the first African-American to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
Photo of John McCain by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.