Orrin Hatch warns Senate 'is in crisis' in farewell speech

The Republican senator from Utah, 84, is retiring this month after serving four decades in the Senate.

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, in his farewell address on Wednesday, warned his colleagues that the upper chamber of Congress where he has served for four decades "is in crisis."

“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," Hatch said in remarks delivered on the Senate floor. "Regular order is a relic of the past. And compromise — once the guiding credo of this great institution — is now synonymous with surrender."

Hatch, 84, is retiring this month after serving in the Senate since 1977. He is currently the Senate's president pro tempore.

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On Wednesday, he reminisced about a time when the chamber was "the world's greatest deliberative body."

"Times have certainly changed," the Utah Republican said, adding that to "mend the nation, we must first mend the Senate."

"We must restore the culture of comity, compromise, and mutual respect that used to exist here. 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," Hatch said.

Over the last several years, Hatch said that he witnessed the deterioration of the judicial confirmation process and abandonment of regular order.

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.

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.

Though rarely critical of President Donald Trump, Hatch called out the president for his rhetoric, saying that, "Restoring civility requires that each of us speak responsibly. That means the president. That means Congress. And that means everyone listening today."

During his long 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.