tv U.S. Senate Senators Collins Isakson Inhofe Pay Tribute to Sen. John... CSPAN August 27, 2018 8:39pm-9:13pm EDT
bigger than any one state. he always belonged to america and to the world. and now he belongs to the ages. farewell, senator. farewell, john. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: madam president, the united states senate -- indeed, our entire nation -- is mourning the loss of a great leader and american patriot, our colleague and friend, senator john mccain. madam president, i first met john mccain when i was a young staffer in senator bill cohen's office, and john was serving as the navy's liaison officer.
as a fellow senator for the past 21 years, i knew him as a trusted colleague, a courageous legislator, and a close friend. john was a true american hero who devoted his life to serving his country. courage and character were the hallmarks of his military service as well as his work in congress. in the senate, he was a consequential leader on the most critical issues facing our country. john mccain was one of our congress' most respected voices for a strong national defense and for good government. his word was as much his bond in
washington as it was to his brothers in arms in vietnam. madam president, i'd like to share with my colleagues a story that i believe demonstrates the essential character of john mccain. in november of 2010, john was part of a congressional delegation on its way to a security conference in nova scotia. bad weather caused their flight to be diverted to bangor, maine, where i live. i shortly received a phone call to come to the airport, and i went and welcomed john and my colleagues on their unplanned visit. as it happened, the troop -- troupe greeters of maine were at
the airport at the same time. this legendary group of citizens has greeted more than 1. 5 million service members, either leaving to go overseas or returning home. since 2003, never missing a single flight, even in bad weather or the middle of the night. and the presiding officer, i believe, who also has served her country so well, senator ernst, was one of those who was greeted by the troop greeters in bangor, maine. rather than fly out when the weather cleared, john, the others in the delegation agreed to stay and join me with the long line of these patriotic troop greeters to await the aha
rival -- the arrival of the airplanes. and i remember when i told john that there was a plane that would be arriving shortly and then there was another one in a couple of hours, he said, of course we'll stay. well, madam president, you can imagine having gone through the gauntlet of mainers greeting and welcoming the troops back home, hugging them, cheering them, giving them cell phones, thanking them for their service that all of a sudden the troops realized that they'd just shaken hands with john mccain, the legendary john mccain, who was so popular with service members. and i saw them literally do a double-take when the first group went by, shook his hand, and then turned around and said to
each other, wasn't that john mccain who just shook our hands? they then came back and, of course, posed for pictures and chatted with him, and held up the rest of the line who were very eager to see john. i will never forget how thrilled these troops were to be greeted when they were first setting foot back on american soil by a true american hero, john mccain, someone who had served our country with such courage and character. by the end of the day, john had spent three hours greeting two planeloads of soldiers. he loved greeting them and posing for pictures.
it was such a heartwarming, unexpected event and a very special moment, and it not only gladdened the hearts of the troops but also of the troop greeters, who were thrilled to have their hero with them. it was vintage john mccain that he stayed, even after the weather had cleared, and greeted each and every one of those troops. john mccain did what he thought was right, regardless of the political consequences. he had absolutely no interest in scoring partisan political points on the senate floor. he welcomed and would listen to good ideas whether they came from the democratic or the
republican side of the aisle. while he was always open to new evidence, good ideas, and was capable of changing his mind, he was unshakable when he was convinced of the appropriateness of a course of action. john was impatient. he wanted to get on with solving the problems facing our country. he had no use for the political games that, sadly, far too often are played in the senate. one often overlooked aspect of john was his love for the environment. i once visited him at his beloved ranch in sedona, and i was surprised when he took me all over the property, pointing out birds, naming them, and
clearly taking such delight in the wildlife. until that moment, i did not know of his interest and love for nature. later on i accompanied john on a trip he organized to the arctic to see the permafrost melting and to meet with native alaskans. we also traveled to antarctica where we spent four days meeting with scientists who told us of the impact of global warming. he took me on so many trips and broadened my horizons. four times we went to afghanistan, four times to iraq. we went to yemen. we went to libya and met with colonel qadhafi before he was overthrown and killed. john taught me so much on these
trips. the principles that guided john's life are best summed up by his own words from his beautiful auto biography "faith of my fathers." he said, glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely, and who rely on you in return. john mccain was a statesman and a dear friend who was devoted to a cause greater than himself. and that cause was the united states of america. it has been an honor to serve alongside him for nearly 21
years in the united states senate. although he will be deeply missed by all of us, he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy that will inspire americans for generations to come. thank you, madam president. mr. isakson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: madam president, yesterday was a difficult day for me. before i get moo that day, let me -- before i get into that day, let me recognize the senator from oklahoma for a motion. mr. inhofe: i thank the senator. i ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of the remarks from the distinguished senator from georgia that i be recognized for such time as i shall consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: madam president, yesterday was a difficult day for committee. i'm 74 years old. i was born in 1944. like many americans, my youth was during the vietnam era.
the prime of my youth was the vietnam era. in fact, my senior year in college i got a graduation diploma hand a draft notice on the same day. they were put in the same book. everybody was going. everybody was being called up for the draft. there was a lottery, but so many people were eligible that almost everybody in my age group would have been drafted if they didn't join the service. i joined -- i joined the national guard, which i am very proud of and am still a guardsman to this day. but it also gave me the chance to serve my country in a way that would not put me inasmuch risk to go to vietnam as it would to be drafted. but i did that because i wanted to do everything i could to stay here an get married to my wife diane. but i was of the age to be drafted and i made the decision to find a way to serve that would not put me in a position of being drafted where i lost control. and i was able to do it and a lot of people were and a lot of people weren't. and i know that. the ones that could know it and the ones that couldn't know it
shall did and i breadth knows what i am talking about, being a guardsman herself. i lost my best friend from vietnam, jackson elliott conform iii, waynes bore rao, georgia. birddog capital of the world. jack told us he joined the marine core, was going to go to vietnam and fight the bad guys. we all said, jack, don't volunteer to do that. you could get killed. he said, no, i want to do it. it is a great country. i have had a great life. going to university of georgia, wonderful mom and dad, good friends like y'all. i want to go to o.c.s. and be an officer in the marine corps. he did. two years later he was shot in the 11th month of his stint in vietnam by a sniper. alex crumley, and pierre howard, the democrat lieutenant governor of georgia, and myself, we were the three best friends -- the
four amigos, if you will. we went to 589 liberty street in waynes bore row and spent three nights and four days with emily and jack, jack's dad and mom. when they brought the -- when the marine corps brought the body back, it lied in state in their dining room. we had a wake and service for him. we stood guard. we cried. we talked about the good times. we talked about the bad times. we felt sorry for ourselves because a life that had meant so much to all of us was gone. but jack felt a calling for the country. he did a great service for the country, and i'm proud of him. i'm proud to have been his friend. i tried to do what i could, but never in the category of what john mccain or jack cox did. there were a lot of people of my age that didn't do as much as they probably could have or might have done. and probably from time to time have seconds thoughts about it, too, because the vietnam war was so tough. i had friends that came back who had to dress in blue jeans and
khakis when they got off the troop train from wherever they were to atlanta because they would get accosted on the street if they were in their uniform during that era. today we go to the airport, we have troops come through, they will fly back from duty somewhere. they get standing ovations. people would give up their seat to let them sit there. it wasn't like that in the 1960's and 1970's. it wasn't like that at all. in fact, many people risking their lives, in fact 58,000 of them did give their lives for all of us. we were making fun of them as a nation. it messed up our politics, messed up our country, messed up our people, messed up everybody else. but america's a great country. and as much as what i am telling you is tragic to me -- and i apologize to everybody that i didn't do everything that i should have done. i think all of us owe each other a commitment to say we'll never let america get that way again. america will always be like it was on 9/11, or 9/12, 2001. we all put american flags on our cars. we all sang the national anthem.
we all did the pledge of allegiance after we had been attacked. we rallied. for a few months, we were the most patriotic nation in the world. we ought to be that way every single day, because every single day there are those just like those firemen and emergency medical people on 9/11, there were those in the vietnam war who signed up, who fought, risked their lives, in some cases died, like john mccain, like my brother-in-law, rocky davison, my wife's brother, who knew a navy reconnaissance plane in vietnam, one of the most decorated pilots in the navy during that era. people like him were great. like my father-in-law. my father-in-law flew reconnaissance in world war ii, in the pacific. he did everything he could to help the country during a give time. there were so many people who did that in our country. we owe them all a debt of gratitude, a debt of thanks. we need to all remember we're all americans. we owe those who saved us as a country, kept our freedom when
we were about to lose it, fought for us, risked their lives, and died for us, we owe them at times like this to elevate them to the appropriate place in history. that's what i'm trying to do with john mccain today. i want to elevate john. john was better than me, and i know it. john was the best of my generation. john mccain was and is a great human being. i don't know what's going to be said in the next few days about john mccain, by whomever it's going to be said. i don't know what's going to be done. but anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of john mccain deserves a whipping, because most of the ones who were do the wrong thing about john mccain didn't have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn. we need to remember that. so i would say to the president or anybody in the world, it's time to pause and say this was a great man. he gave everything for us. we owe him nothing less than the respect that he earned. and that's what i intend to give
john. in return for what he gave me. john took me to kosovo 20 years ago when clinton said we're going to send some people over to verify the crime sites, the ethnic cleansing. i went to pristina with john, went to montenegro, went to the world security conference in munich a few years after that. got to sit with piewp putin then. saw john mccain talk to vladimir putin like they were next-door neighbors. also like they were dutch uncles. i was so proud to be in a country that had a guy like john mccain who could break the ice with the toughest of our adversaries. speak up with pride for america and calm down when they need to be called in. yeah, john and i had some problems, too. mitch mcconnell gave me -- did me the worst favor of my lifetime when he made me the chairman of the ethics committee. that's a hard job. nobody likes the chairman of the ethics committee because they
are scared of him. i got the ethics committee job at a time when john mccain was put on a special committee for the ethics committee to decide what to do on using airplanes during campaign events as candidates or for our pac's. john had access to a plane which gave him an exemption from the rules that we passed. it made it tough as heck because he didn't have to worry about the cause and effect. but john took a second to understand the problems of a normal legislator that might not have had access to a private plane would have. in the end, john took his circumstances and his abilities to have a private plane and applied it to the changes that were made and see to it that everybody is being treated fair. john didn't expect things to just be good for john. he expected them to be good for everybody. he always did that, and i always learned a lot from him. the other thing i learned was how to consensus. let me -- how to cuss. john mccain could do a lot of things but cuss is one of the best things he did. he was a consummate cusser. he knew had you to do it to have
emphasis added. that's what the papers say, when they put the marks in it after some statements jim inhofe or i make. john could -- he and i were working on a deal. i am chairman of the veterans committee. he was chairman of the armed services committee. we had a huge veterans bill. we had to come together and meet the minds on in terms of health care. john was late to the meeting. he came in the meeting, he pulled the door behind him and slammed it. for ten minutes laid the best cussing on me and everybody else in the room i ever heard. he said now i haven't got time to put up with this anymore. y'all just listen to what i have to say and tell me what you're going to do. that's a tough way to do business. but john sometimes knew to get us all to think, get us all to talk, if he intimidates you enough so you would fight for what you believed in, you would get a better piece of legislation than if he just let you pass or he intimidates you to death. john knew exactly what he had the capability of doing and he knew exactly when to apply the intimidation and the thanks and
the grace. he did it the right time every single time. did we agree all the time? no. but i know i'm a better person. my country is a better country, and the world is a better place because of john mccain. in the next three or four days as we go through and we run into kids that we know or relatives or my own children that i will be with this coming sunday in the mountains, we're going to have a little meeting about john mccain, just to make sure they know -- i know that they know what i know about a great american hero, because i want them when they have kids in their 40's, like my kids are in their 40's today, that they will remember on veterans day, on memorial day, on all other days that john -- the john mccains of the world and those that will come after john who put their life and their future and their fortune on the line for the greatest country in the world, the united states of america. and i yield back my time. and note the absence of a
quorum. mr. inhofe: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: did you put us in a quorum? the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. inhofe: that's good. i can't think of anything more difficult than to speak after the last two speakers. of course, i have known them for a long time. they are two totally different, opposite people. you have susan collins who is a well-recognized moderate. she is one who understands and has a great appreciation for the environment. not the kind of person that you would associate with a tough guy like john mccain that's gone out there and has done things
that other people haven't done that we have just talked about. and then you hear the statement from the senator from georgia. it just -- you know, i was thinking about that. i'm a few years older than he is. we have a lot of things in common. i was -- we were just talking about being drafted. i was drafted. i always remember, i was -- actually, i was enrolled -- this is many, many years ago. i was going to be at the university of mexico in mexico city in an international program. and so i was at that time at the university of colorado. i did all of my -- all of my finals and all of that early so i would get back in time to go down to -- down to mexico. so i got back to tulsa where i'm from, and i got a letter from the very person -- a very important person, the president of the united states. i thought how nice of eisenhower
to remember me. it was my draft notice. so that changed my life, but it changed my life in a way that was the -- is the greatest single experience that i have ever had, and i wouldn't be doing what i'm doing today if it were not for that. the discipline that comes with being in the military. and then we always have, there are always heroes that you deal with, and we are dealing with a hero when we deal with senator mccain. you know, i have often said that i think of timothy when he wrote second timothy 47:00 had john mccain in mind when he said i fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have september the faith. that's comal what he did. -- exactly what he did. kind of a mean guy. a lot of people didn't like john mccain. he wasn't the most lovable person to be around. but he was a fighter.
never shied away from a good fight. he was passionate for the causes that he believed in, a strong advocate for human rights and democrat values, standing up for oppressed people around the world. that was a soft side of john mccain that a lot of people don't know about, that he was a fighter, but not just a fighter. he was a fighter for the people of arizona. you know, after he got back from the time that he spent in prison, he got back to arizona, and he started fighting again. he did that for 36 years after his incarceration. he was shaped by his own military service and that of his father and grandfather. it's been said several times statements about his father and grandfather. i have done some studying on them. that is really the -- what formed john mccain. both of them were admirals in the navy.
it is natural that he was going to be in the navy, and of course he was during his leadership in the senate armed services committee, he continually focused on impact. now, the occupier of the chair right now has served on the armed services committee with senator mccain, and she knows, as i know and anybody else who has served with him, that he was always for the underdog, always for the troops out in the field. i think that the senator from maine articulated that very well, the people that he had compassion for. he would always take care of the sailor, soldier, airmen, marines. he articulated this, by the way, in one of his books, "the faith of my fathers." he was talking about his father and his grandfather. this is a quote, and this says it better than any of the rest of us could say it. he said an officer's obligations to enlisted men with the most
solemn of all. an officer must not confer his responsibilities to the men under his command. they are his alone. he does not put his men in jeopardy for any purpose that the country has not required they serve. he does not risk their lives in welfare for his sake, but only to answer the shared duty they are called to answer. that's senator mccain. he looked after those individuals who were in -- under his -- under his command. he was a ferocious opponent, but the key thing about senator mccain is he was willing to take on those tough debates with you, become more and more rare in this chamber. we don't see them like we used to. john would relish the debate, earning the respect and admiration of everyone. i can remember, there are so many areas because of all the years that we served together, not just in the senate armed services committee but also in
his time in the house, in my time in the house. we had differences of opinion. i think i'm a little bit stubborn sometimes, too. i remember the commissary issue. that got pretty violent before it was over. we took on each other. the brac issue. he wanted to have another brac round in this defense authorization bill, and i didn't want one because i thought something we shouldn't be doing is closing down missions right now that we may be needing as we are rebuilding, so we had an honest different opinion. i remember in 2003, that was back when everyone was jumping on this whole global warming thing and that was going to be everyone's ticket to the white house. i remember when john, they had the mccain-lieberman bill. i remember that lasted three days of debate. three days of debate. i had hardly any senators come down on my side of the issue. but we won anyway. after that was over -- and that
was one that john had his heart in -- he came over to me, he said good job, you won, i lost, and that was it. no hard feelings. that's the kind of person that john mccain is one that we will never forget. remember, a lot of people look at oklahoma and think it's always been a -- always been a republican state. it wasn't. it wasn't until well after 1994. in 1994, i ran for the united states senate. it was a democrat state. i had this guy kind of the dar darlene of the democratic party. only three senators came out and it was senator grassley, senator bob dole and john mccain. now, john mccain came out and i always remember this, we had a
lot in common, but i hardly knew the guy. the first time he came out because he has a background in aviation, i have a background in aviation. and i remember i had a nice air conditioned twin engine plane, but i lost an engine the night before so i had to fly my kid's plane. it's very hot -- it's called a little gruman tiger. it doesn't have any air conditioning, it was in the 90's, it was close to 100 that day. i wrote down the places we went that day. first we went to oklahoma city, then to shaney, then to lawton, which is the home of fort sil, which is the number one area in the world for ar till tri, and we did our thing there all the time. he was campaigning for me, a guy who couldn't win. we went from there to altas air
force base, and that is one still one of the top training bases, and we now train k-17 and kc-125's. as a matter of fact, because of john, we'll be flying the kc-46. of course, this is long before that. but, anyway, we worked and ended up in bartelville and hosted a fundraiser with the n.r.a. i guess he wanted to spend more time in the plane because he came back two weeks later and we also did the same thing. now, there was no reason for him to do that. we hardly knew each other when we started. we got to know each other when we were up there in that heat. nevertheless, he was there. and you always remember people
who help you when nobody else will. you can say a lot of things about john mccain. you will hear a lot about him and you will hear a lot more. what's never in dispute john mccain was a fighter, he was deeply loyal to his country, family, constituents. he was -- we all know that patriotism isn't based on your words, you have to live it. he did that every day. as a young naval officer following in his family's footsteps, his father and grandfather, he kept the faith, he graduated from the naval academy. he never talked about being the outstanding student. in fact, he said i was fifth in the class, fifth in the bottom. but he became a naval aviator and deployed during the vietnam war. he flew 23 missions and then was shot down in enemy territory
and -- and -- and we all know the story. we know that he kept his faith and we know it bears repeating that five years in north vietnamese, i remember going there and seeing the conditions under which he was during that period of time. and here's a guy who had the opportunity because both his father and grandfather were admirals, he had the opportunity, if he wanted to, to bail out, and he didn't do it. he just wanted to be there. he didn't want to have any special kind of treatment. so that was john. and after the navy, john kept his faith by continuing to serve his country. this time as a congressman and then senator and then ultimately chairman of the armed services committee. he kept true to the causes that were just. now we all grieve because john has finished his race here on earth and on his own terms and surrounded by his friends and
his loving family. john served his country faithfully for 60 years. we owe him a great debt for that service. this week we will mourn him, honor him, and celebrate the truly remarkable life of an american hero. we all have our john mccain story, a time when we were moved by his stub stubbornness and passion. i look forward to hearing the stories an tributes from my friends. we all grieve for cindy and the family and they'll continue to be in our prayers. and, lastly, i do believe, now that i thought about it, that's what timothy had in mind, i have fought this good fight, i have finished the race, and i have kept the faith. so we say, thank you, john mccain. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president,