By allowing the current majority leader to discard or ignore these time-honored rules and traditions — the very things that in the past have served to make this body great — we have emasculated the Senate. It no longer serves as a place of serious debate or constructive cooperation. Too often we simply “message” to particular interests or consider strictly partisan initiatives tailored to narrow political constituencies.
It shouldn’t be this way. Ideological divisions will persist and senators of different political parties will continue to disagree with each other on many subjects. That’s just a reality of politics. But the Senate can and must be a place where, at least sometimes, we bridge the partisan divide and advance the common good.
To do so, we must return to regular order and a thorough committee process, allow meaningful and often extended floor debate, and ensure the opportunity for all members to offer amendments and refine legislation.
Only with a return to the Senate’s defining rules and traditions can we restore a spirit of constructive collaboration, in which we work toward building consensus that reflects the national interest. The American people deserve no less.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, is the senior Republican in the Senate, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the longest-serving Republican in the committee’s history.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.