WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain declared himself ready for a rigorous Washington schedule after he returned to the Capitol following weeks-long treatment in his home state for brain cancer.
“I feel fine,” the six-term Arizona Republican said Tuesday as his Senate colleagues welcomed him – with hugs, pats on the shoulder or a simple handshake.
McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he’ll begin shepherding the annual defense policy bill through the Senate next week. The legislation is seeking $700 billion for the Pentagon in the 2018 budget year. Lawmakers are first taking up legislation to speed relief aid to Texas and Louisiana in the wake of the Harvey storm.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in remarks at the start of the Senate session, said lawmakers are “glad to have him back with us.” During a vote, McCain walked around the Senate floor, cheerfully chatting with some lawmakers.
Earlier Tuesday, McCain declared President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out an Obama administration program that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants “the wrong approach” at a time when Republicans and Democrats need to work together.
McCain said he backs legislation to put so-called “Dreamers” on a path to U.S. citizenship, but wants the measure to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.
McCain capped a busy schedule during Congress’ August recess with a trip to an international forum in Italy. He spoke at the Ambrosetti Forum, joining Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on a panel focused on the United States.
The six-term senator received radiation and chemotherapy for cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. McCain, 81, underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch blood clot in his brain. He announced shortly thereafter that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma.
But McCain’s medical condition didn’t slow him down. During the month of August, he attended an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, visited the final workout of the Arizona Cardinals’ training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium, and went hiking several times with his family.
As a Navy pilot, McCain lived through a July 1967 fire that killed 134 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. The following October, his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. McCain also has survived several bouts with melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.
McCain came back to Washington after his operation in July, entering the Senate on July 25 to a standing ovation from his colleagues. In a dramatic turn, he cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care bill – a move that drew the wrath of President Donald Trump and conservatives. McCain’s vote scuttled the seven-year effort by the GOP to dismantle much of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
In an op-ed posted last week by The Washington Post, McCain called for Republicans to work with Democrats. He said Congress should work with Trump when and where they can. But McCain said he and other lawmakers aren’t the president’s “subordinates.”
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