Sen. John McCain blamed both Democrats and Republicans for playing the blame game over the partial government shutdown while the U.S. armed forces "pay the price."
In a scathing press release, the Arizona Republican did not name names, nor did he refer to President Trump, whom Democrats blame for balking on an immigration deal, but conceded "all of us" are to blame.
“As Republicans and Democrats run to cable news to point fingers and assign blame, the hard reality is that all of us share responsibility for this failure," McCain said just hours after lawmakers in the Senate failed to pass a short-term spending bill. "For years, under both a Republican and Democrat-controlled Congress and White House, partisanship has taken precedent over national security. Political gamesmanship, an unwillingness to compromise, and a lack of resolve on both sides have led us to this point. Shamefully, no one will incur more harm than our brave men and women who have volunteered to fight and die for our freedom."
McCain was absent from Capitol Hill as the clock struck midnight and the partial government shutdown began. He is still in Arizona, recuperating after a hospitalization as a result of brain cancer treatments.
However, McCain, who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has been actively dogging his counterparts for neglecting the troops.
“Without long-term, stable and predictable funding for the military, our service members will pay the price. Troops will be denied scheduled training. Ship maintenance backlogs will grow. A depleted force will continue to shrink. And readiness will further suffer," McCain said Saturday. "At a time when more service members are dying in routine training accidents than in combat, asking the military to continue doing more with less is a disgraceful dereliction of our foremost duty in Congress to defend the nation."
The government shutdown will halt paychecks for troops, cause furloughs for civilian Defense Department workers, and cause disruption for the military.
But McCain did not signal support for the short-term funding proposal that GOP leadership in the Senate had supported and was already pass in the House, which would extend spending only through mid-February. Instead, McCain had called for a longterm, bipartisan measure and said last week that troops "will pay the price" regardless of continuing resolution or a shutdown.
He warned Friday that the new National Defense Strategy just unveiled by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would be “meaningless” unless Congress can pass a budget.
McCain also had addressed the concerns of many Democrats and some Republicans over adding provision to protect “Dreamers” covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevents those who came to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. DACA expires in March.
The senator previously said that while he does believe in helping those who are covered by DACA, he views “holding our men and women in uniform hostage to other demands [as] a dereliction of our first duty as members of Congress provide for the common defense.”
With the Senate expected to reconvene at noon on Saturday as they seek a new deal, possibly a three-week stopgap, McCain urged both sides of the aisle to "put politics aside, come to the table, and compromise on an agreement that will give our service members the training, equipment and resources they need to succeed.”