During the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on efforts to manage the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, McCain instead turned to his longstanding request that the Coast Guard be sent to help better secure the U.S.-Mexico border in his state.
"I want to know about whether you're going to send the Guard to the border or not," McCain asked Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona.
Napolitano responded the request was still being considered by the Defense Department, Homeland Security and the White House. She said she would like a decision to be made "as soon as possible, but I cannot give you a date certain."
That didn't set well with McCain.
"Well, meanwhile, people's homes are being violated, and their families can't take kids to the bus stop," he said. "So I don't know what it takes for us to get a decision on it. At least the people in my state have the right to know whether ... they're going to be sent or not."
McCain then asked Napolitano her opinion of Arizona's new immigration law. She responded by calling it "a bad law enforcement law" she would not have signed as governor.
"When I was dealing with laws of that ilk, most of the law enforcement organizations in Arizona at that time were opposed to such legislation," Napolitano said.
McCain said he'd "be pleased maybe in writing to hear what specific aspect of the law would impede or harm law enforcement, since the majority of law enforcement in Arizona strongly supports this legislation."
"And, unfortunately, ... the president of the United States portrayed it as a -- that someone can't even go out for ice cream without being harassed, which is one of the more outrageous statements I've ever heard," McCain said. "And now our own attorney general has, after condemning the law, said that he hadn't even read it.
"This is an important issue not just in Arizona, but around this country."