- President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act on Monday.
- The bill authorizes $US717 billion in defence spending and is named after Arizona Sen. John McCain.
- But Trump and McCain have frequently sparred over policy, and the president didn’t mention the senator once during the signing ceremony.
The 2019 National Defence Authorization Act that President Donald Trump signed on Monday was named after Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, but the title of the legislation was McCain’s only mention during the ceremony.
McCain, who is Senate Armed Services chairman and has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics on defence issues, has been in Arizona since late 2017, where he is dealing with brain cancer.
In a statement released Monday, McCain praised the bill – officially called the John S. McCain National Defence Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2019 – which authorizes $US717 billion in defence spending and includes funds for the expansion of the military’s active-duty ranks and bumps troops’ pay by 2.6%.
“I’m humbled that my colleagues in Congress chose to designate this bill in my name. Serving as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and working on behalf of America’s brave service members has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” McCain said in the statement.
During the signing ceremony at Fort Drum in New York, Trump name-checked several Republicans in Congress who had worked on the bill, but he omitted the bill’s namesake, referring to the legislation as “the national defence authorization act.” Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, and he too failed to mention McCain once.
The enmity between Trump and McCain is longstanding.
During the 2016 president election campaign, Trump said McCain, who was a prisoner of war for several years in Vietnam, was not a war hero because he was captured. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Trump said. Trump also frequently complains about McCain’s vote against a Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
More recently, McCain inveighed against Trump over the latter’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain said after the summit.
Former Massachusetts Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry called the lack of mention of McCain “disgraceful,” adding that “nothing will erase for an instant the legacy John McCain has written and is still writing every day.”
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