Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday announced that he would be suspending his campaign to return to Washington for negotiations on a financial bailout package. McCain has not voted in the Senate since April 8, and as recently as Tuesday, McCain said he had “not had a chance” to “examine” the Bush administration’s proposal.
McCain is insisting that his involvement in this deal is pivotal. However, many of his fellow lawmakers disagree, noting that negotiations are now almost over. Even Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) refused to answer when a reporter asked him if “he wanted McCain sitting in blow-by-blow negotiations.”
This strategy of becoming engaged in Senate business at the last minute is not new for McCain. In May 2007, McCain had gone five straight weeks without casting a single vote on the Senate floor. On May 17, he returned to the Senate to participate in the immigration debate. At a bipartisan negotiating meeting, McCain began complaining that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was “raising petty objections” to a compromise immigration plan.
Cornyn responded by bristling that McCain was swooping in at the last minute and trying to take over:
Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. “Wait a second here,” Cornyn said to McCain. “I’ve been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You’re out of line.” [...]
“[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room,” shouted McCain at Cornyn.
It’s not clear that McCain and Obama’s presence would even make a difference in these last-minute negotiations. After Bush’s speech last night, Frank told reporters that there was now agreement between House and Senate Democrats on what should be in a rescue bill, and they would be meeting with Republicans today. A Democratic aide told The Hill last night that “not too many” issues remain unresolved between congressional Democrats and Republicans on key committees.