Schumer, Pelosi push to rename Senate building after John McCain, could spur huge political fight

Following Sen. John McCain’s death Saturday from brain cancer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi began pitching an idea for the Russell Senate Office Building to be renamed after him. But while the idea sounds nice in theory, it could spur a major congressional fight.

“The Senate, the United States, and the world are lesser places without John McCain. Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain, but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him,” Schumer initially said in a Twitter statement Saturday evening.

Speaking the next morning with ABC News’ host George Stephanopoulos, Pelosi offered her own support for renaming the Senate building.

“I think it would be a great tribute, because then for decades to come, everyone who came to Washington would know the very special place that John McCain held — has held and will continue to hold in our country,” she said.

Listen:

The problem, as noted by the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” is that renaming the Russell Senate Office Building would mean erasing part of the legacy of deceased Sen. Richard Russell Jr. And this could in turn spur a congressional fight.

What would make this fight different than, say, the ongoing fight over schools named after Confederate generals is that Russell wasn’t a figure from history — he was a modern Democrat who died less than 50 years ago.

“It would replace the name of Richard Russell, who as you know — when he died in the 60s — was the most senior member of the Senate, and was a southern leader against the civil rights movement,” Ed Henry pointed out Sunday morning.

He died in 1971, actually, though Henry was right about everything else — particularly about this top Democrat being against the civil rights movement (no surprise there).

“Richard Russell was a giant,” correspondent Chad Pergram added. “Say what people will say about his views on civil rights, he was kind of the defacto majority leader. There’s a reason why this building is named for him. And that could be a big fight if they try to push that. We don’t know what the political response would be.”

Fast-forward to about the 1:20 mark in the video below to hear their discussion:

Why though would Democrats push for such a fight? Because it feeds perfectly into the Democrat base’s desire to erase those portions of American history that they dislike.

Like Pergram noted in the video above, “We are in an election season, and Democrats are concerned about getting out their base.”

But is the Democrat Party willing to anger some of its own officials by eliminating the legacy of a fellow Democrat by renaming the building named after? Better yet, is the Democrat base that desperate to erase history that they’re willing to support renaming the Russell Senate Office Building after … a Republican?

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Vivek Saxena

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