Politics This is what Orrin G. Hatch's retirement means for the Senate
Utah paper tells Hatch to 'call it a career' in blistering editorial
Utah's largest newspaper slammed Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) in a Christmas Day editorial on Monday while calling on the senior GOP senator to retire. The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial board named Hatch their 2017 "Utahn of the Year," a designation the paper says is given to someone who has "had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.
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Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator, has announced at age 83 that. suggested late last year that he would be vulnerable to a primary challenge should he seek the GOP nomination for another term, and in a last summer an overwhelming majority of Utah voters suggested it was time for Hatch to step down.
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As others consider theimplications of Hatch’s announcement, consider these implications for the Senate when Hatch retires later this year.
The Senate will remain a geriatric chamber even after Hatch’s departure. As the figure below shows, the average senator is roughly 10 years older than in 1981, making the current Senate “” in U.S. history.
Eight octogenarians serve in the Senate, The Washington Post’s Paul Kanelast month. A handful of septuagenarian senators legislate alongside them. That’s unusual historically, though hardly surprising. In the Senate’s first century there were shorter life spans and fewer career lawmakers, which also made octogenarians rare in the body’s second century.
As Kane pointed out, every elderly senator occupies a key committee leadership post. And the chamber has felt the consequences. The Republican policy agenda was slowed in some way this past year by their elderly colleagues’ injuries, illnesses and absences. Hatch’s departure will do little to resolve such problems.
According to newby political scientists Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, the number of truly effective Senate lawmakers has dropped markedly in recent years. Hatch’s departure furthers that decline.
Hatch is best known for his legislative partnership with the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Despite being ideological, they managed a that yielded bipartisan, landmark public health laws: health insurance for in low-income families known as S-CHIP and aid for low-income, uninsured victims and their families. With then-Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Hatch forged another legislative partnership to produce the and create the modern drug industry. Even in the hyperpartisan Senate of recent years, Hatch secure Senate passage of a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill in 2013.
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For better or for worse, Hatch also excels at exploiting the rules to block major legislation. As a freshman in 1978, the senator launched a filibuster and nearly derailed Democrats’ landmark labor law to modernize the Federal Reserve during an ailing economy. More recently, he has been the strongestof the nutritional supplements industry. Scientist and consumer critics of the industry say Hatch has worked for decades to derail legislative and regulatory efforts that would empower the government to block unsafe products from markets that make unproven claims about their health benefits.
Hatch has at times been a constructive legislative partner with Democrats and at other times an ardent partisan foe. Neither is common in today’s more partisan and centralized Senate, where party leaders tend toand advance the agenda. That leaves little legislative leeway for senators such as Hatch to make their mark on policy. That perhaps contributes to why Hatch has to secure the future of his prized S-CHIP.
If Republicans hold the Senate after the 2018 elections, get ready for a game ofto fill new openings at the helm of major committees. The Senate GOP term limits on committee chairs, limiting service to three two-year terms. When he retires next year, Hatch opens the Finance Committee chair. Senators overwhelmingly fill their top spots by seniority. This makes Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) first in line to fill that chairmanship. But Grassley now heads the Judiciary Committee, having previously served four years at the helm of finance.
And so, get theready. As helpfully games out for us, if Grassley moves to the Finance Committee, he must step down as chair after two years, given his four prior years as chair. If he stays at judiciary, Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) could move to chair the Finance Committee, and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) could capture the Senate Banking Committee chair.
What’s the point? Republicans have a deep bench of older senators with long careers and years of Senate experience. But they’ve made a rule on their committee chairs that likely limits their legislative prowess: Wiseman and Voldenthat longer-serving chairs tend to be more effective lawmakers. Imposing term limits on GOP Senate committee chairs might the recent decline in their effectiveness.
Such limits could kneecap expertise, weaken institutional memory and further empower party leaders — making it harder for senators to engage in constructive lawmaking at which senators such as Hatch once excelled.
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Lauren Cooper first started to notice something was awry with her daughter Molly when she was seven months old, in 2003, and was unable to bear any weight on her legs. Lauren Cooper first started to notice something was awry with her daughter Molly when she was seven months old, in 2003, and was unable to bear any weight on her legs. Alarmed, she and her husband Kevin Allen took her to a slew of doctors and neurologists, but a diagnosis evaded them. Finally, Cooper found something on the internet called Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder found mainly in girls with symptoms that matched her daughters’.
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