Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor GOP in uncharted territory rolling back rules through resolutions MORE (D-Nev.) praised McCain as the key deal-maker in the matter.

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McCain has been taking more of a leadership-like role in the Senate lately, working to avert the so-called "nuclear option" on presidential nominees and pairing up with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump is right: The visa lotto has got to go Schumer predicts bipartisan support for passing DACA fix this year No room for amnesty in our government spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and the Gang of Eight to successfully pass immigration reform.

But the longtime senator, who was his party's presidential nominee in 2008, was quick to say he wasn't usurping his party's leaders.

“I don't mean to replace the leadership — usurp it in anyway,” he said, adding “I'm just there to help.”

He said he talked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.) several times over the weekend as he worked with Reid on negotiations.

“He was encouraging me. He wanted to get this done,” McCain said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill Trump wrestles with handling American enemy combatants Flake: Trump's call for DOJ to probe Democrats 'not normal' MORE (R-S.C.), one of McCain's closest friends in the upper chamber, said the Arizona lawmaker was helping out because he “really loves the institution.”

“I think John looks long-term in terms of the Senate. I think he's trying to keep the Senate the way he found it,” Graham said.