If John McCain’s illness requires a long absence from the U.S. Senate, his colleagues will be deprived of a dealmaker and leading voice on national security, while America’s allies will lose one of the few Republican critics of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
The 80-year-old lawmaker and 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who was elected to a sixth Senate term last November, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is vowing a quick return to the Senate.
McCain, a former U.S. Navy pilot who spent 5-1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is outspoken on a range of issues, from defense spending to immigration to demanding a thorough investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Asked how the Senate was different without McCain, his close friend Senator Lindsey Graham said: “It’s quieter. John is a fighter and John’s into every cause no matter how hard it might be.”
A Russia hawk, McCain has expressed deep skepticism of Trump’s effort to improve ties with Moscow, and emerged, with Graham, as perhaps the most vocal Republican critic in Congress of the president’s foreign policy. He chairs the influential Senate Armed Services Committee.
McCain has traveled the globe on trips some analysts say are efforts to soothe the concerns of U.S. allies that fear Trump’s “America First” policy means a retreat from international engagement.
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