Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) seemed Tuesday night to back off his threat that Republicans wouldn't cooperate with Democrats the rest of this year.

McCain, who's drawn heavy criticism from Senate Democrats and members of the Obama administration for his remarks, said that the GOP would partner with Democrats on issues in the "national interest."

"Look, let me just clarify that," McCain said of his previous remarks during an appearance on Fox News. "If it's in the national interest and there's something that requires us to work together -- a national emergency, something that we think will help the country -- sure."

But the Arizona Republican, who is up for reelection this fall, still said it was difficult to envision a situation where the two parties would want to sit down with each other to work together on an issue. 

"What I meant was, for us to sit down together and say gee, how can we get something accomplished?" McCain asked. "We'll just wait until after the election."

Republicans have griped over the budget reconciliation process Democrats are using to pass a series of final changes to the health reform bill signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama. The process removes Republicans' ability to filibuster legislation, and places other constraints on the ability of the GOP to oppose legislation.

"Because this process, they have basically shut us out of what is the institution of the Senate in that it should be 60 votes majority," McCain said.