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Lawmakers introduce resolution calling for NATO headquarters to be renamed for McCain

National flags of member states fly during the welcoming ceremony at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels in July 2018.

MARLENE AWAAD/BLOOMBERG

By FELICIA SONMEZ | The Washington Post | Published: September 6, 2018

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a resolution Thursday to support renaming the new NATO headquarters in Brussels for the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in recognition of his "long and ironclad support" for the alliance.

The measure is likely to spark the ire of President Donald Trump, who frequently sparred with McCain and only begrudgingly issued a proclamation honoring the senator days after he died of brain cancer Aug. 25.

The resolution "urges the President to support renaming NATO headquarters after Senator McCain and to direct appropriate officials at the Department of State and the Department of Defense to advocate for their counterparts in NATO member states to support renaming NATO headquarters after Senator McCain."

It was introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., and Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif. In a showing of bipartisan support for McCain, the co-sponsors were joined by a group of 20 other lawmakers – nine Republicans and 11 Democrats – from both chambers.

The plan has the backing of former NATO secretaries general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, George Robertson and Javier Solana, who wrote in a Times of London op-ed last week that "few things symbolize this alliance, and the enduring benefits of American global leadership, more vividly than the life and work of John McCain."

In response to a request from a British member of parliament to rename the building after McCain, Jens Stoltenberg, the current NATO secretary general, told CNN last week that the proposal "will be considered carefully."

To be adopted, the plan would need to be approved by all 29 NATO member states.

McCain was considered one of the Senate's most vocal proponents of the transatlantic military alliance, which was formed in 1949 to defend the United States, Canada and Western European allies from Soviet attack. He butted heads with Trump on the issue as recently as July, when he took to Twitter to decry the president's remarks to Fox News Channel that sending troops from the alliance to defend tiny member country Montenegro would trigger "World War III."

"The people of #Montenegro boldly withstood pressure from #Putin's Russia to embrace democracy," McCain wrote. "The Senate voted 97-2 supporting its accession to #NATO. By attacking Montenegro & questioning our obligations under NATO, the President is playing right into Putin's hands."
 

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