The Senate is "broken" and fails "to live up to its original purposes," Orrin Hatch of Utah, president pro tempore of the Senate and its longest-serving GOP member, writes in The Washington Times
The Founders intended the Senate to serve as a firewall against popular passions. Senators were given longer and staggered terms, and the chance to work in a more intimate chamber, with the express intent of enabling them to "resist initially popular but ultimately unwise legislation," Hatch writes.
The Senate was supposed to "temper unwieldy swings of public passion" and reflect "a broader set of interests" than those of House districts.
Hatch writes that, "For 38 years, I have had the extraordinary privilege of serving in the Senate. During that time, I have witnessed it at its best and, more recently, at its worst."
He recalls what the first Adlai Stevenson, then vice president, said of the Senate in his 1897 farewell address: "In this Chamber alone are preserved without restraint two essentials of wise legislations and good government: the right of amendment and of debate. Great evils often result from hasty legislation; [but] rarely from the delay which follows full discussion and deliberation.'"
For the Senate to again deserve the title of the "world's greatest deliberative body," Senate values need to be restored, writes Hatch.
The Senate must "become the primary body for forging consensus and advancing national priorities." It must foster meaningful debate, embrace an open amendment process, regular order and committee work.
Hatch calls on Senate Republicans to use their majority to "restore the Senate" and engage in "meaningful policy discussions rather than wasting most of our time on partisan grandstanding and cheap political theater."
He calls on senators to develop bipartisan partnerships and "resist the temptation" to let ideological divisions rule their actions.
No one expects partisan tension to vanish overnight, writes Hatch.
It would be a move in the right direction, though, to re-establish the Senate's "historic aims" and reinstitute its "defining modes of operation."
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