Tennessee’s Republican Senator, Lamar Alexander, used his farewell speech on Wednesday to ask Republicans and Democrats alike to, “put country before partisanship and personal politics.”
The retiring Senator says that would include not allowing the Senate filibuster to end.
Alexander said that doing so “would destroy the impetus in the United States Senate to force broad agreements on hard issues and unleash the tyranny of the majority to steam-roll the minority. Presidents would like it. They would get their way more easily if we ended the requirement that 60 senators vote to cut off debate before we vote on a legislative issue.”
Alexander says the people would uproar if that were to happen, but he also added that the people need the Senate to “force broad agreements on controversial issues that become laws most of us have voted for that a diverse country will accept.”
Some examples that the Senator mentioned in his address were; the Civil Rights Act, No Child Left Behind, and the Century Cures Act.
Alexander says that the Senate forced them to work out a broad agreement in order to successfully pass the Cures Act. Senator Mitch McConnell referred to it as “the most important legislation.”
Alexander stated that enacting these laws took years of work, as well as adding several amendments. To some, the effort took a few years too long, but in the end they did more than pass.
On Wednesday Alexander said “those laws didn’t just pass. They passed by wide margins. The country therefore accepted them. And they are going to be there for a long time.”
The retiring Senator went on to urge the Senate to allow floor amendments to be offered by legislation. He said it is hard to get to the Senate, and hard to stay there, but it is sometimes even harder to get things done without voting on amendments.
When speaking about the runoff election, and Joe Biden, who is to be sworn in as President, Alexander added that, “Divided government offers an opportunity to share the responsibility — or the blame — for hard decisions.”
Alexander was not the only one to speak during his farewell on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senator Marsha Blackburn were just a few of the others who shared the stage with the retiring Alexander.
McConnell, said he isn’t happy about the idea of Alexander leaving, but he told the retiring Senator, “the nation it [the Senate] exists to serve are stronger and better because you were here.”
Blackburn revered Alexander as a Senator who could get things done, and the work he accomplished while serving touched millions.
Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Susan Collins both referred to Alexander as a man who was always willing to find a common ground. Feinstein believes that the senate will certainly be diminished when he leaves.
Collins went on to refer to Alexander as, “that rare individual who is far less interested in getting the credit than getting the job done.”