Congress should listen to Sen. McCain’s wise words

I had the opportunity to listen to Sen. John McCain’s speech given to all 100 senators on the U.S. Senate floor upon his return to Washington following the very bad news that he has brain cancer.

Sen. McCain’s message is important in order for Congress to solve our country’s most serious issues and problems.

“Our deliberations today are more partisan, more tribal, more of the time than at any other time I remember. The polarization of political discourse has practical, negative consequences. It is not producing much for the American people,” he said, begging for a return to “the old way of legislating the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. A return to the process of carefully crafting policy in committees before bringing bills to the floor for open debate. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s a greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.”

He made his case for bipartisanship and said, “incremental progress, compromises that each side criticizes but also accepts, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. 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.”

In conclusion Sen. McCain finished with this question and factual statement. “What do we have to lose by trying to work together? We are not getting much done apart.”

In my book “Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics,” I have written about a period during my 14 years in Congress when we passed a bipartisan welfare reform bill which President Clinton signed after vetoing two bills he did not like, passing three balanced budgets in a bipartisan fashion, passing two six-year transportation bills with a large bipartisan vote and passing major tax reform. These were important achievements for our country and Congress.

The Congress has left Washington for August but when they return there is much to do including an infrastructure bill, immigration reform, tax reform, passing a budget, passing spending bills, raising the debt limit, and approving long delayed appointments to important government positions.

Much of this work can be accomplished if the Congress will follow Sen. McCain’s leadership as demonstrated by his speech.

Finally, pray for the speedy recovery and return of Sen. McCain. His leadership and inspiration are critical for Congress and our country.

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