McCain: I'm "embarrassed" by "members of my own party"

The former presidential candidate is furious with some Senate Republicans for holding up aid to Ukraine

Published March 14, 2014 3:02PM (EDT)

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)              (Reuters/Samantha Sais)
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (Reuters/Samantha Sais)

Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain lambasted his fellow Republicans for stalling aid to Russian-occupied Ukraine, describing their refusal to let the measure pass through as leaving him "embarrassed" in a way he's never been before.

"What has happened?" McCain said. "Where are our priorities? Is the IMF, no matter whether it's fixed or not fixed with this legislation, more important than the lives of thousands of people? Is that what we're talking about here?"

Some Republicans in the Senate have refused to let an aid package (which also includes sanctions against Russia) pass because of an added provision, requested by the White House, which would reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Continuing to rail against unnamed Republicans, McCain said, "I will say to my friends who were objecting to this ... you can call yourself Republicans. That's fine, because that's your voter registration. Don't call yourself Reagan Republicans. Ronald Reagan would never, would never let this kind of aggression go unresponded [sic] to by the American people."

"So now because of an IMF fix, or a campaign finance fix, we are now going to reject a piece of legislation that was done in a bipartisan basis with the leadership of the chairman who I see on the floor, of which I'm proud, ranking member, Senator Corker of Tennessee, and we're going to say 'no,'" McCain continued. "And you know the most ridiculous thing about all of this is? The majority leader has filed cloture. We have well over 60 votes. So we're going to be back in about 11 or 12 days, whatever it is. Cloture will have been expired. It's well over 60 votes. And we will pass this."

"I've been embarrassed before on the floor of the Senate, I will tell the president," McCain added. "But I haven't been embarrassed this way about members of my own party."

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McCain has long been hawkish toward Russia and is not afraid to take on his fellow Republicans. But McCain's remarks stand in contrast to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said the IMF provision to boost funding had nothing to do with the Ukraine bill. Ukraine has long been a recipient of IMF loans, and is negotiating a new package of loans with the IMF.

The Senate is likely to vote on the Ukraine aid package when it returns from recess next week. McCain is leading a congressional delegation to Kiev in a show of support for the new government.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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