By Julian Pecquet - 12/12/13 09:03 PM EST
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) heaped praise on Vice President Biden at a ceremony honoring his commitment to foreign aid on Thursday, calling his friend of four decades “a good man” and an “honorable and dedicated public servant.”
“Vice President Biden deserves our gratitude and respect for his many years of effective leadership in ensuring that all the resources America has to influence the course of world events are funded adequately and used effectively,” McCain said. Biden, he said, deserves a “share of the credit” for the advancement of U.S. values across the world since they first met four decades ago.
Biden received recognition from the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition for his longstanding commitment to America's global role, notably as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now as vice president.
“What we do beyond our borders matters here at home more than it ever has,” Biden said. “At just over 1 percent of our federal budget, American investment in [foreign aid] is one of the best bargains for American taxpayers.”
The event further elevates the vice president's bipartisan bona fides ahead of a possible 2016 run. Biden trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in early polling but has been burnishing his image as a world leader, notably with a recent trip to Japan, China and South Korea amid rising tensions in the region.
The two politicians joined forces in urging continued support for foreign aid at a time of budget deficits and war weariness.
McCain slammed the isolationist wing of his party, which he accused of believing that global leadership was an “expensive vanity that deserved to disappear with the Berlin Wall.” The comments are a jab at Tea Party favorites such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has repeatedly clashed with McCain over cutting foreign aid to countries such as Egypt and Libya.
“We made the world safer for our interests in the last century not by military might alone but also by our diplomatic leadership,” McCain said. He called diplomacy and foreign aid “indispensable to our success.”
Biden for his part questioned whether the post-World War 2 effort to repair a devastated Europe would pass in today's divided Congress.
“Think about what some of the isolationist voices you hear today ... would be saying if we had just gone through a war engaging 12 million Americans, with tens of thousands of losses, if we said we want to appropriate $13 billion,” he told the audience.
He also praised former President George W. Bush's multibillion-dollar President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
“PEPFAR and George Bush deserve so much more credit than he gets,” Biden said.
Also honored were Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
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