McCain Returns to the Senate

Posted September 25, 2008 at 2:13pm

GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned to his day job Thursday, lobbying fellow Republicans to support President Bush’s plan to bail out Wall Street while receiving Democratic brickbats.

In response to the market crisis, McCain jumped off the campaign trail and is meeting with the Republican leaders. On Thursday, he went to see House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in his office.

Senate Republicans welcomed McCain back to the Senate, arguing that he would help pass the legislation passed.

McCain and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) will attend a meeting with other Members of Congress at the White House at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other top Senate Democrats dismissed as a political stunt McCain’s statement that he was “suspending” his presidential campaign, warning that his actions could threaten the bailout package.

Lawmakers have said the bailout package transcended partisanship. But McCain’s return appeared to spark a round of partisan carping.

“That was one of the most transparent political moves when it happens on the same day the Washington Post poll has him down by 10,” a Democratic leadership aide said. “All the parties involved realize such political transparency couldn’t go unchallenged, and his fellow Senators are the best people to challenge that political transparency.”

Noting that a group of bipartisan negotiators have made significant progress on the bill, Reid sarcastically challenged McCain for his handling of the financial crisis and said his presence is not needed to finish a deal. “If a certain individual had stayed out of this and just indicated he would support” legislation, the emerging deal may have more buy-in from Republicans, Reid said.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added: “This notion that somehow John McCain is going to ride in to the rescue, I think, is a notion only of his own mind and not reality,” Durbin said.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) released a joint statement Wednesday night harshly criticizing McCain’s decision. “We are pleased to report we are making bipartisan progress on a rescue proposal for our financial markets. During these discussions, we have received significant cooperation and constructive feedback from the other side of the aisle — with one notable exception. Apart from his unproductive criticisms made from afar, we have heard nothing from Senator McCain on these critical issues. Now is certainly not the time for him to inject presidential politics into these delicate discussions,” Dodd and Schumer said.