Former Sen. John Warner
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Former GOP Sen. John Warner from Virginia, who served in Congress for five terms and played a central role in shaping military affairs legislation, has died. He was 94.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Warner’s chief of staff Carter Cornick announced the former senator’s death, and longtime chief of staff Susan A. Magill told The Associated Press that the former Navy secretary’s cause of death was heart failure. 

“He was frail but had a lot of spirit until his last days,” Magill told the news agency, adding that he passed away at his home in Alexandria, Va., with his wife and daughter by his side. 

Warner, who for part of his time in Congress served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was one of few World War II veterans in the Senate and became a respected lawmaker on both sides of the aisle for his consensus building and diligence, the Post reported. 

The senator, who was married to Elizabeth Taylor from 1976 to 1982, was also widely respected for his independence in shaping policy. 

Warner during debate on Democrats’ push to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2007 led Republicans in opposing the move, saying at the time, “What we have on the line is the credibility of the United States of America” 

Just one year later, however, he criticized the George W. Bush administration’s proposed “surge” in troops in Iraq, saying, “The reason I’m into this situation so deeply is that I feel that the American citizens have given so generously with their sons and daughters.”

“Have we not fulfilled our commitment to the Iraqi people?” he questioned. 

The lawmaker also joined fellow Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) in co-sponsoring legislation banning the torture of suspected terrorists and opposing provisions to military commissions that were used to try war criminal suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the Post noted. 

Warner, who served in Congress from 1979 to 2009, was succeeded by current Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), no relation.

Lawmakers and political commentators reacted to news of Warner’s passing Wednesday, with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) calling the late senator an “unmatched leader” and a “dear friend.”

“Not having John Warner to go to for advice leaves a big hole in my life. But we can all celebrate a public servant who stood on principle, made us proud, and exemplified the best of what politics can be,” Kaine said in a statement. 

Mark Warner, whom John Warner endorsed twice for reelection, released a statement, saying, “In Virginia, we expect a lot of our elected officials. We expect them to lead, yet remain humble. We expect them to serve, but with dignity. We expect them to fight for what they believe in, but without making it personal.”

“John Warner was the embodiment of all that and more,” he said. “I firmly believe that we could use more role models like him today.”

Tags heart failure John McCain John Warner Lindsey Graham Mark Warner Senate Senate Armed Services Committee The Associated Press The Washington Post Tim Kaine Virginia

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