WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 12, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, in his farewell address on Wednesday, warned his colleagues that the Senate, where he has served for four decades, “is in crisis.”
Hatch, 84, is retiring this month after serving in the Senate since 1977.
In remarks delivered on the Senate floor Wednesday, he said: “To address this body is to experience a singular feeling. A sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself, a minor character in the grand narrative that is America. No matter how often I come to speak at this lectern, I experience that feeling, again and again.
“But today if I’m being honest I also feel sadness; indeed my heart is heavy because it aches for the times when we actually lived up to our reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body. It longs for the days in which Democrats and Republicans would meet on middle ground rather than retreat to partisan trenches.”
Over the last several years, Hatch said that he has witnessed the deterioration of the judicial confirmation process and abandonment of regular order.
“By both the left and the right, the bar of decency has been set so low that jumping over it is no longer the objective,” Hatch said. “Limbo is the new name of the game. How low can you go? The answer, it seems, is always, lower.”
He added: “All the evidence points to an unsettling truth: The Senate, as an institution, is in crisis or at least may be in crisis. The committee process lies in shambles. Regular order is a relic of the past. And compromise — once the guiding credo of this great institution — is now synonymous with surrender.”
He also recounted “unlikely” friendships with Democrats in previous years, including with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, (D-Mass.), and wondered if their friendship could exist today.
“By choosing friendship over party loyalty, we were able to pass some of the most important and significant bi-partisan achievements of modern times,” Hatch said.
“Times have certainly changed,” Hatch said, adding that to “mend the nation, we must first mend the Senate.”
Hatch argued in his remarks that lawmakers should keep in mind that there is a “trickle-down effect” from what takes place on Capitol Hill to American society.
“We must restore the culture of comity, compromise, and mutual respect that used to exist here,” he said. “Both in our personal and public conduct, we must be the very change we want to see in the country. We must not be enemies but friends.”
He added: “Restoring civility requires that each of us speak responsibly. That means the president. That means Congress. And that means everyone listening today.”
During his Senate career, Hatch served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Labor Committee.
Hatch will be succeeded by Republican Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.