Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as a "genuine American hero" Monday in describing a weekend visit the Kentucky Republican paid to McCain and his wife at their Arizona home over the weekend.
In an address on the Senate floor, McConnell said he, McCain and McCain's wife, Cindy, "had a chance to sit on the back porch and reminisce about our friendship and all we had shared over the last 30 years."
"I told him we miss him," McConnell added. "I was confident I was speaking for everybody in the Senate in conveying our deepest respects for him and all he's done for the county in his extraordinary life."
McCain has not cast a vote on the Senate floor since December of last year due to his brain cancer diagnosis. However, McConnell noted that his colleague "doesn't have a relaxed bone in his body. And he still has plenty to say about work, I assure you."
McConnell did not reference a remark by White House communications aide Kelly Sadler, who said McCain's opposition to President Trump's nomination of Gina Haspel to run the CIA "doesn't matter [because] he's dying anyway."
Numerous lawmakers have called on the White House to apologize, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who told the The Associated Press on Monday: "The person who said it should apologize. It's totally inappropriate."
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota said the White House could have handled the incident better.
"The smart thing to do would have been five days ago to just nip it in the bud and come out and apologize for it," he said.
White House officials have condemned the leak of the private conversation, and some have expressed their support for Sadler.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday that Sadler had been "dealt with internally," but did not say how.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.