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John Warner, former long-time Republican Virginia Senator and Secretary of the Navy who voted for Biden in the last election, dies at 94

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In addition to his service as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the five-term senator was known for his stint as secretary of the Navy and marriage to Elizabeth Taylor.



Mr. Warner frequently went against his party in domestic affairs. He supported legal abortion, although he voted in favor of numerous limitations on the procedure; supported gun control; voted against confirmation of President Ronald Reagan’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork; and urged lifting President George W. Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research. In 2005, he was part of the bipartisan “Gang of 14” that prevented either party from using parliamentary maneuvers on judicial appointments.

He was no maverick, though. Mr. Warner supported the three Republican presidents under whom he served — Reagan and the two Bushes — more than 90 percent of the time.



The previous year, Mr. Warner, bemoaning the influence of conservative Christians and anti-abortionists, refused to support the GOP nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor, Michael P. Farris. Democrat Donald S. Beyer Jr., now a Virginia congressman, easily defeated Farris in the general election.


Republican leaders sought revenge on Mr. Warner in 1996 by enticing James C. Miller III, a former head of the federal Office of Management and Budget, to challenge Mr. Warner in a party convention. But Mr. Warner, exerting his prerogative, forced a primary and was handily re-nominated.



In his later terms, Mr. Warner continued exercising his independence. He was one of 10 Republican senators who voted against the charge of perjury in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and he spoke out against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, telling the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, “I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral.”


One week before announcing his retirement, Mr. Warner urged President Bush to begin bringing troops home from Iraq by Christmas 2007, to emphasize to Iraqi leaders that the United States’ commitment was not indefinite.






Republican former Senator John Warner served the Commonwealth of Virginia for over 30 years in the United States Senate. Before being elected to the Senate, he served as Undersecretary of the Navy and Secretary of the Navy under President Nixon. In the Senate, John Warner served as the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee from […]


Truth be told, he was a pretty conservative Senator, but for the kind of people who were running around the time (think George Allen), he was considerably better, particularly on social issues.

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