WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski paid tribute to Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor Tuesday, calling him " a beloved colleague … a patriot (and) … truly an American hero."
"He had remarkable intellect. He had an iron will, most certainly. Unquestionable integrity. Courage that was absolutely unwavering," Murkowski said.
McCain died Aug. 25 from aggressive brain cancer. He served more than 30 years in the U.S. Senate and was the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nominee.
Murkowski, a Republican, attended his funeral Saturday but was in Alaska last week during the Senate session in which many other lawmakers paid tribute to McCain.
McCain was skeptical of Murkowski when she was appointed by her father, Frank Murkowski, to fill the Senate seat he left to run successfully for governor, she said. But after giving her time to prove herself, he came to her one day and said, "You know, you're OK, kid," she said.
Murkowski spoke of McCain's penchant for "legendary arguments … always with a great deal of passion."
She pointed to his work on campaign reform, immigration and advancing the cause of Native people, including elderly Alaska Native veterans, which she said was often overlooked.
McCain "had visited Alaska, and it helped validate his view that climate change is real and something that we have to deal with. … And I agree with John," she said.
Murkowki and McCain famously joined last year to defeat their Senate Republican colleagues' effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"That was a tough vote," she said. "But I will tell you it was comforting to have some solidarity with a friend, John McCain. … John was one that when he had made his mind up, he had made his mind up."
McCain "took no guff, we all know, from the administration, no matter who was in charge," Murkowski said. That's because he was a "true believer in the Constitution and its checks and balances … a true believer in democracy."
McCain had an ongoing feud with President Donald Trump and made it clear that Trump was not welcome at his funeral, though past presidents were.