McCain being all mavrick again

The Hill:

Four months after he lost his bid for the White House, no one in the Senate really knows what to make of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

This week McCain tried to strip most of the earmarks from a pending $410 billion omnibus spending bill.

The effort failed. While the former GOP presidential candidate managed to rally 30 of his Republican colleagues behind his amendment, once it was struck down, 27 of them were happy to abandon the stand and accept their millions of dollars in earmarks, now secure in the bill.

The moment seemed to answer a question raised immediately after the Arizona senator lost the presidential election. McCain apparently has not returned from the campaign trail to assume the role of party leader.

Yet his earmark crusade, which included a rousing speech this week on the Senate floor, once again thrust the maverick back into the limelight. And it managed to capture the attention of the man who sent him back to the upper chamber.

President Obama invited McCain to the White House on Wednesday, despite his having given the Monday floor speech that ripped Obama and senior White House officials for what he called their disingenuous stance on earmarks.

McCain told The Hill that Obama pledged, during their meeting, to work with him on earmarks, which Senate observers interpreted as an effort by the president to mend an important relationship.

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