Brown Floor Remarks Honoring Sen. McCain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor, honoring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) passed.


Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:


This week, we’re coming together to pass important bipartisan legislation that will strengthen our national security, and invest in American jobs.

Many of my colleagues of both parties have helped get the National Defense Authorization Act over the finish line:

I particularly want to thank my colleagues Senator Portman, who worked with our office to secure important Ohio priorities, and Senators Inhofe, Reed, and Crapo, who I worked with on the Conference Committee to get our agencies new tools to screen Chinese and other foreign investments for national security threats.

But this bill would not have been possible without the leadership of one senator – I’m talking, of course, about my colleague, the senior senator from Arizona, Senator John McCain.

It’s why this Congress honored him through the name of this bill – the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act.

Naming a bill after a Member of Congress is a rare honor. We’ve only done this for lions of the Senate and House – Sam Nunn, John Warner, Ike Skelton, and Carl Levin.

This bill also honors Senator McCain’s commitment to our national security through the new John S. McCain Strategic Defense Fellows Program.

Senator McCain embodies some of our nation’s most cherished values: service and sacrifice.

We all know how a young Naval pilot captured behind enemy lines did not waiver in his commitment to his fellow POWs held in the jungles of Vietnam. 

And has shown that same steadfastness throughout his life and his time in the Senate.

We have had our disagreements – particularly on the decision to authorize the invasion of Iraq – but we have always respected each other.

Senator McCain has been a leader that many of us from both parties have rely for guidance and moral clarity on national security issues.

This Congress has reminded of Senator McCain’s commitment to his country above all else.

He has been a critical partner in the fight for sanctions to hold our adversaries accountable.

Last year, we worked together, along with Senators Crapo, Schumer, Graham, Rubio, Corker, and Cardin, to pass tough new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

These bipartisan sanctions sent a clear message, pushing back against undemocratic and hostile regimes.

Our commitment to our values must be absolute  – that is what separates us from our adversaries.

John has always been clear that we do not only honor the rule of law or refrain from torture when it’s easy or convenient.

That’s why he authored his amendment in 2015 to prohibit the use of torture as an interrogation method. I was proud to join my colleagues in overwhelmingly supporting that measure.

Senator McCain has also been forceful in defending our allies against Russian aggression in Crimea and Georgia and Montenegro.

He knows the importance of the trans-Atlantic alliance. He has always supported a strong NATO and urged us to stand with our allies, not undermine them.

After the Helsinki summit, Senator McCain spoke out forcefully against the president cozying up to Putin and his attacks on journalists.

He said, “The president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”

He said that we need leaders who will stand up for, quote, “All that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”

Senator McCain has certainly dedicated himself to that cause and sacrificed for it. It’s one reasons many of us look to him on these issues and respect his moral authority.

Throughout his life and career he has lived the motto of “country first.” Now, the legislation we will pass today, to protect the country he has dedicated his life to, will be a living tribute to his legacy.

I thank my colleague from Arizona for his work on NDAA this year, and look forward to continuing our work together to protect our national security and serve the people of this country.