John McCain: White House urged to lower flags for senator

Flag at White House flying full-staff

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Flags at the White House returned to full-staff on Monday as the country continues to mourn John McCain

US senators have issued a bipartisan call to lower American flags in honour of John McCain after the White House raised its Stars and Stripes back up.

Top Democrat Chuck Schumer and top Republican Mitch McConnell said flags on all government buildings should be at half-staff for the late senator.

President Donald Trump has long feuded with McCain, and is reportedly not invited to his funeral.

The Arizona Republican died on Saturday of brain cancer.

President Trump ordered the flags to fly at half-staff on Saturday evening.

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Media captionJohn McCain: US war hero, maverick and political titan

But they were flying at full-staff by Monday morning, even as the flags at the US Capitol remained at half-staff.

Some said the White House was simply following proper procedure because US Flag Code states that flags be lowered “on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress”.

However, others pointed out it is traditional to keep flags lowered to honour lawmakers and major public figures until their funerals.

On Monday, Mr Schumer and Mr McConnell asked for the flags to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of McCain’s burial on Sunday.

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Media captionVisitors to the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC paid tribute to John McCain.

Mr McCain’s body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday and at the US Capitol Rotunda on Friday, giving his colleagues and the public a chance to pay their respects.

His funeral ceremony will take place on Saturday at the National Cathedral, where former Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama are expected to deliver eulogies.

Vice-President Mike Pence will reportedly attend on behalf of the Trump administration.

The White House issued no formal statement over the weekend about McCain’s death, though one was drafted, according to US media.

Instead, both the president and vice-president offered their condolences to the senator’s family via Twitter.

Critics have questioned why Mr Trump has not issued a presidential proclamation to lower the flags, as previous presidents have done for major political figures.

President Obama ordered flags at the White House be flown at half-staff for nearly five days after Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts died in 2009.

And Mr Trump himself issued flag flying proclamations following mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.

He also had the flags lowered when former First Lady Barbara Bush died until she was buried.

Since taking office, the enmity between the president and McCain has been well documented.

Earlier this month, when he signed a multi-billion dollar defence bill named after McCain, Mr Trump did not say his name.

McCain will be buried on Sunday in a private ceremony at the US Naval Academy chapel.

He will be buried beside his friend and fellow Naval Academy classmate Admiral Chuck Larson.

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