Maine's 2 Senators Back Effort To Rename Building For Sen. John McCain

Aug 29, 2018

Maine's two U.S. senators say they support a proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building for Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died on Saturday.  The idea has received support on both sides of the aisle especially because of the history surrounding the man for whom the building is currently named.  But other options to honor McCain are also being discussed.

Independent Sen. Angus King appeared on CNN Tuesday morning to talk about the legacy of Sen. John McCain, whom King has called "the very definition of a patriot." 

Among other things, King was asked about a proposal to change the name of the Senate's oldest office building in McCain's honor. King served as a Senate staffer in the 1970s. 

“As a staff member, this was called the old Senate Office Building - or affectionately we referred to it as the old SOB,” King says. “And I can’t imagine a more appropriate place to put John McCain’s name.”

King says it's appropriate because the Senate Armed Services Committee – a committee McCain chaired for many years - meets in the building.

In a written statement, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said renaming the building after John McCain would certainly be one way to honor his legacy.  But she went on to say she wants Senate leaders to work together to find an appropriate way to pay tribute to McCain. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced he will form a bipartisan panel to consider other ideas as well, including renaming the Senate Armed Services committee room after McCain. 

King says there might be other reasons to consider renaming the Russell office building.

“You know, sometimes you do change the names of buildings to make them more current and think it would be a living memorial with the work that goes on here, and perhaps occasionally remind us of what our obligations are. “

What neither of Maine's two senators are bringing up directly is the simmering opposition to keeping long-time Georgia Democratic Sen. Richard Russell’s name on the 110-year-old building.

The opposition is based on Russell’s long fight to preserve racial segregation, using his mastery of Senate rules to block civil rights bills from even getting a vote.

Russell fought integration in the military and in federal government agencies. He even went as far as proposing legislation that would encourage blacks to move out of the south.  A previous attempt to change the building’s name failed in 2003.

Originally published Aug. 28, 2018 at 4:18 p.m. ET.