Press Releases

Press releases are archived according to their release date. For press releases by topic, please see the Issue Positions page.

Jan 13 2015

HATCH, KLOBUCHAR, RUBIO, COONS, FLAKE, BLUMENTHAL INTRODUCE HIGH-SKILLED IMMIGRATION BILL

Bipartisan Legislation Reforms Employment-Based H-1B and Student Visas, Increases Access to Employment-Based Green Cards, and Promotes STEM Education

HATCH, KLOBUCHAR, RUBIO, COONS, FLAKE, BLUMENTHAL INTRODUCE HIGH-SKILLED IMMIGRATION BILL

Bipartisan Legislation Reforms Employment-Based H-1B and Student Visas, Increases Access to Employment-Based Green Cards, and Promotes STEM Education

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced legislation, the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015, to bring long-overdue reforms to the nation’s immigration laws for high-skilled workers.  The bill focuses on areas vital to ensuring the United States can maintain its competitiveness in the global economy: the quantity of employment-based nonimmigrant visas (H-1B visas), allowing for their growth depending on the demands of the economy while making reforms to protect workers; increased access to green cards for high-skilled workers by expanding the exemptions and eliminating the annual per country limits for employment based green cards; and reforming the fees on H-1B and green cards so those fees can be used to promote American worker retraining and education. The bill was first introduced in the 113th Congress. 

"This bill is a common sense approach to ensuring that those who have come here to be educated in high-tech fields have the ability to stay here with their families and contribute to the economy and our society,” Hatch said. “I’m calling on everyone – from the President and both sides of the aisle in Congress to the tech and business industries – to get behind this bill and use it as a launching for more progress on immigration reform. We have to find ways to make progress and solve some of the real problems facing our nation. The I-Squared Act is one of those ways and I want to work with everyone to get it done.”

The bipartisan legislation is the result of constant outreach with leaders in the business and high-tech industries.

“This is a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to help ensure the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs get their start in America, no matter where they are born,” Klobuchar said. “We need to move forward on immigration reform for the good of our economy and the good of our country, and I will continue to push for action.”

“America deserves an immigration system that works for our economy, drives innovation, and creates good paying jobs for our people,” said Rubio. “An immigration system for the 21st century will be judged by whether it provides the conditions for both security and economic growth. The reforms in this legislation lead the way to such a system, which I believe we can ultimately achieve after meeting the immediate challenges of securing our borders and improving internal enforcement.”

“The creativity, ingenuity, and determination that immigrants have brought to this county have been a large part of our economic success,” Coons said. “Our immigration system is broken, though, and while I still believe the Senate should come together again on comprehensive immigration reform, it’s important that we make progress in the areas that Democrats and Republicans do agree on, like steps to ensure that the world’s best and brightest do their work here in the United States. Inspiration is a precious resource, and if we want those ideas to be turned into job-creating innovations here in the U.S., we need to ensure those individuals can earn status here." 

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue to push for critical reforms to benefit high-skilled legal immigration and ensure that the U.S. economy has the talent it needs to be competitive in the global marketplace,” said Flake. 

“The United States cannot afford to exclude talented immigrants who have the skills, initiative and desire to fuel innovation and economic growth in America,” said Blumenthal. “Welcoming skilled workers and making it easier for them to protect their rights at work must be key components of any comprehensive immigration solution. The I-Squared Act is true to American values and good for the American economy.”

Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

  • Increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
  • Allow the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) within any fiscal year where early filings exceed cap and require the cap to go down in a following fiscal year (but not below 115,000) if usage at the end of any fiscal year is below that particular year’s cap
  • Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
  • Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • Increase worker mobility by establishing a grace period during which foreign workers can change jobs and not be out of status and restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O and P nonimmigrant visa categories

Student Visas

  •  Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities to provide the certainty they need to ensure their future in the United States

Green Cards

  • Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used, and continue this policy going forward through the roll-over of unused green cards in future fiscal years to the following fiscal year
  • Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
    • Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
    • U.S. STEM advance degree holders
    • Persons with extraordinary ability
    • Outstanding professors and researchers
    • Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas 

U.S. STEM Education & Worker Retraining Initiative

  • Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states

 

Jan 12 2015

Sens. Hatch & Markey Respond to White House Efforts to Protect Student Privacy

"We need to establish security safeguards that ensure greater transparency and access to stored information for students and parents."

Washington, D.C. – Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass, released the following joint statement on the pressing need to act on student privacy. Today, President Obama announced new proposals to safeguard student data, including ensuring school data collected is only used for educational purposes and that student data will not be used for targeted advertising. Last year, the Senators introduced the “Protecting Student Privacy Act,” legislation that would help safeguard the educational records of students. Unfortunately, with nearly all school districts relying on cloud services for a diverse range of functions that include data collection and analysis related to student performance and data hosting, one survey found only 25 percent of districts inform parents of their use of cloud services and 20 percent of districts fail to have policies governing the use of online services. Senator Hatch is the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  Senator Markey is a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.    

“We appreciate the President bringing attention to the important issue of protecting student privacy in the 21st century classroom. For the past year, we have been working on this issue in a bipartisan manner, engaging parents, educators, students, industry, and other stakeholders to develop a balanced approach that promotes educational technology opportunities while protecting student privacy. We need to establish security safeguards that ensure greater transparency and access to stored information for students and parents. Our bill provides a middle ground between overly burdensome requirements on schools and educational technology providers, and the transparency that parents rightly demand. It is important that parents know where their students’ information is being shared and that they are offered a pathway to amend information held by third party providers. It is also important that students’ information is used only to better their success in the classroom, and not for other purposes. However, in doing so we must make certain not to impede the exciting and innovative ways technology can help to improve student outcomes.”

Jan 12 2015

Hatch Co-Sponsors Bill to Repay States for National Park Shutdown Cost

“I’m proud that the State of Utah stepped up to keep our National Parks open during the government shutdown. Now that Congress has retroactively funded the National Park Service it’s time to reimburse Utah the funds it advanced."

Washington, D.C. – Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, President Pro Tem of the United States Senate and Chairman of the Senate Western Caucus’s Public Lands Subcommitee, co-sponsored the National Park  Access Act, alongside Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar  Alexander (R-TN), and John McCain (R-AZ). The bill would direct the National Park Service to reimburse states that provided funds to reopen national parks temporarily during the 2013 government shutdown.? ?The bill text can be viewed here.

“I’m proud that the State of Utah stepped up to keep our National Parks open during the government shutdown,” Hatch said. “Now that Congress has retroactively funded the National Park Service it’s time to reimburse Utah the funds it advanced during the shutdown. I look forward to swift congressional action to advance this bill.”

Background: During the government shutdown in October 2013, six states – Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah – advanced some $2 million to the National Park Service to temporarily reopen iconic national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty. Following the shutdown, Congress retroactively funded the Park Service, which has since retained the $2 million state contribution as a shutdown windfall.

Washingtonton, D.C., -- Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, spoke on the Senate floor on his plans to restore the Senate to the “world’s greatest deliberative body.

The speech, as prepared for delivery, is below: 

Mr./Mme. President, I rise today to address the state of the United States Senate and how to restore its greatness.

The Office of Senate President Pro Tempore

            Yesterday, I was sworn in as the President Pro Tempore. Although there have been some notable exceptions throughout history, the modern practice of the Senate has been to elect as its President Pro Tempore the most senior member of the majority party. As one noted historian of the Senate has generously written, “election of a Senator to the office of the President Pro Tempore has always been considered one of the highest honors offered to a Senator by the Senate as a body.”

            Mr./Mme. President, I am greatly honored to have been selected for this position. But I am also keenly aware of the great responsibilities that come with it.

            The President Pro Tempore of the Senate is one of only three legislative offices established by the U.S. Constitution, and in recent decades, it has been occupied by true giants of the Senate.  Their names—which include Vandenberg, Russell, Byrd, and Stevens—resonate as some of the greatest legislators ever to have served in this body.

Beyond the President Pro Tempore’s formal responsibilities in presiding over the Senate and helping ensure the continuity of government, this office represents a unique opportunity to assist the Majority Leader in guiding the Senate as it addresses the critical issues facing our nation. In that sense, the President Pro Tempore serves as an elder statesman, sharing accumulated knowledge and lessons learned through long experience.

            I consider it fortuitous that the beginning of my service as President Pro Tempore coincides with the start of a new year. For many, the new year is a time for reflecting upon the past and renewing commitments for the future. I believe that we as Senators should use this opportunity for some much-needed introspection about the state of this institution.

            Mr./Mme. President, the Senate has long been heralded as the world’s greatest deliberative body. With so many critical challenges facing our nation today, there has never been a more important time for the Senate to live up to its storied legacy and to fulfill its responsibilities to the American people.

The Role of the Senate in our Constitutional System

Central to properly understanding our responsibilities as Senators is to appreciate the Senate’s role in our system of government. This means understanding both the Senate’s purposes and its unique place at the center of our constitutional structure.

The Senate’s Twin Purposes

James Madison famously called the Senate the great anchor of the Government. He described its purpose as twofold: “first to protect the people against their rulers: secondly to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led.”

The Senate accomplishes the first goal—protecting the people against their rulers—by playing a crucial role in the appointment and removal of both judges and executive branch officers. The President’s power to appoint is tempered by the requirement that his appointees receive the Senate’s advice and consent. The Senate additionally possesses the power to remove from office any official that has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors. The President’s power to enter into treaties is also critically checked by the requirement that the Senate provide its advice and consent to a treaty before ratification.

As such, the President does not have unfettered power to fill up executive offices, pack the courts, or make agreements with foreign nations. He cannot staff agencies with corrupt, incompetent, or ideologically extreme cronies unless the Senate allows him to do so. He cannot conclude treaties that will harm American interests unless the Senate gives its assent. And in selecting life-tenured judges to apply the Constitution and laws of the land, the President cannot act unless the Senate confirms his nominee. In all of these settings, the Senate serves as a crucial check against executive abuse.

The Senate accomplishes the second of Madison’s goals—protecting against temporary shifts in popular opinion—through its character and its institutional structure. In contrast to the large, transient House, the Senate is small, more stable, and therefore has the opportunity to be more thoughtful. 435 members inhabit the House. Only 100 fill this chamber. The entire House stands for election every two years; naturally, reelection is constantly on Representatives’ minds. Senators, by contrast, have six-year terms, and only one-third go before the voters each election. Even with the pressures of modern campaigns, these divergent characteristics produce fundamentally different institutions.

But the Framers designed the Senate to do much more than merely check transient, and occasionally intemperate impulses. They created the Senate to refine the public’s will, to give more wisdom and stability to the government.

The Framers chose the Senate’s relatively small size to enable more thorough debate and to provide individual members greater opportunity to improve legislative proposals. Longer, staggered terms would give members greater flexibility to resist initially popular yet ultimately unwise legislation. They would also guard against temporary majorities. A fluke election may produce significant majorities for one party that two years later disappears. This can lead to wild swings in the law as each new majority seeks to enact a vastly different agenda during its brief period of power. Overlapping terms help to avert this danger. Finally, statewide constituencies require Senators to appeal to a broader set of interests—including the concerns of the state governments themselves—than do narrow, more homogenous House districts.

            To these constitutional characteristics the Senate has added a number of traditions—some formal, others informal—that have enhanced its deliberative character. These include the right to extended debate; an open amendment process; and a committee system that gives all members, from the most seasoned chairmen to the newest freshmen, a hand in drafting and improving legislation.

The late Senator Byrd liked to say that “as long as the Senate retains the power to amend and the power of unlimited debate, the liberties of the people will remain secure.” The Senate protects liberty by giving each Senator an active role in the legislative process. This multiplies the checks against bad laws and expands the universe of individuals working to make good laws better. It erects what Madison called a necessary fence against hasty and unwise government action. And it enables each Senator to bring his or her own wisdom and considered judgment to bear on pressing national issues.

Deliberation, Prudence, and the Common Good

            When the Senate functions properly, it is a truly deliberative body in which all Senators work to identify the common good and the best means to achieve it. The Federalist describes the common good as the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. This is to be distinguished from the individual good, which may vary from person to person, and which may not result in the nation’s benefit.

            Much like the Senate is designed to protect against transient shifts in public opinion, it is also designed to enable Senators to pursue the common good. Senators are able to prioritize achieving the correct results over doing what is politically convenient. The best answers do not always immediately present themselves, nor are they always easily explained. Longer terms give Senators more time to investigate, to analyze, to reconsider, and to recalibrate. So do robust debate and an open amendment process. These are critical elements of our deliberative pursuit of the common good.

            Another crucial component of our pursuit of the common good is prudence. Aristotle called prudence the legislative science because it concerns the best means of achieving the most good in practice. Prudence restrains us from seeking immediate and complete vindication of a single, abstract principle. Instead, it counsels us to work within our existing circumstances to vindicate the enduring principles upon which liberty depends. 

While we should remain true to our principles, we must also recognize that we operate in an imperfect world where we do not control all the levers of power. We cannot simply charge forward blind to present realities.  To do so is to jeopardize our hopes for achieving any meaningful success, because in the messy world of politics, adopting an all-or-nothing strategy usually produces only the latter: nothing.

Politics is the art of the possible. Ideology is important, and rhetoric is captivating, but at the end of the day, when the campaign is over, the American people sent us here to govern. We are here to protect their liberties and to improve their lives. When we grandstand, or hold out for impossible demands, we do nothing but a disservice. The Framers gave us staggered, extended terms so that we could use our independent judgment to get things done. We should get to it.

The Crossroads of Our Constitutional System

An astute commentator observed that the Senate stands at the crossroads of our constitutional system. It shares power with the other branches of the federal government: it ensures temperance in the legislative branch; it must consent to the President’s treaties and appointments; and it plays a critical role in appointments to the Supreme Court. But it also—and this is unique among the branches of the federal government—embodies the interests of federalism and state power at the national level.

The Framers created the Senate to be much more than a simple legislative body. The Senate is uniquely positioned to mediate both among the federal branches of government and between the federal and state governments. As such, the Senate truly embodies the role described by one wise commenter as the sober guardian of the republic.

Our Responsibilities as Senators

            Our responsibilities as Senators follow directly from the Senate’s constitutional role. As the people’s representatives and as envoys of our states’ interests, we are accountable to our states and to our nation. We do not serve any one party or principle, or any particular ideology or faction. We may align ourselves into certain groups—Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal—for purposes of organization and cooperation, but we are Senators first. Other labels are secondary.

            Civility and Statesmanship

            Civility and statesmanship must be our constant ideals. Madison once instructed that “the Senate is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” A key purpose of this body is to calm the passions that arise from the heat of political discourse. As such, we must be always courteous in our communications one with another, both formal and informal, on the floor and off, face-to-face or on a video screen. When we disagree we must do so with dignity and respect, acknowledging the sincere motives and passions of even our most firm adversaries.

            Statesmanship connotes public-spiritedness and a willingness to compromise in pursuit of broader goals. Petulance and unilateralism accomplish nothing in this body. Any Senator who would choose the glow of the camera over the prospect for meaningful achievement seriously misunderstands their role as a United States Senator.

            Prudence and Considered Judgment

            Next on the list of practices Senators must follow are prudence and considered judgment. I have already spoken about prudence. It is a habit of mind that focuses on present realities and achievable goals, not pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams. Prudent lawmakers make experience, not theory, their guide, and recognize that success in a republic requires harmonizing competing values.

            Considered judgment is closely tied to prudence. Prudence is not rash. It requires deliberation and thoughtful analysis. Our constituents sent us here because they trusted our judgment and favored the general outlines we presented in our campaigns. Now that we are here it is time to put our plans into action. We do this by studying problems, investigating proposals, and carefully choosing the solutions that best cohere with our principles. Exercising judgment is an individual matter. Colleagues and opinion leaders may guide our deliberations, but the ultimate choice of policy is one we each must make on our own.

            Seeking Consensus and the Common Good

            The final two obligations I wish to highlight are our responsibilities: first, to seek the common good through earnest deliberation; and second, to achieve consensus—to the extent possible.

As I have explained, the Framers designed the Senate so that members would be able to seek the common good encumbered by few political constraints. Because we stand for election only every six years, we are less susceptible to swings in public opinion. We have the independence to value long-term impact over short-term politics. And because we are a small body—relatively speaking—all members are able to participate fully in the legislative process and to add their voice of praise, warning, or suggestion to each proposal that we consider. We deliberate not to score points, or to craft sound bites, but because we believe that in the contest of opposing views, the best answers will win out.

            I mentioned consensus. Although much of our day-to-day operations are conducted by unanimous consent, obviously we do not do everything around here by consensus. We are 100 fiercely independent legislators. Even at the end of a lengthy debate with numerous opportunities for amendment, we may remain sharply divided about a bill’s wisdom, or the objective it seeks to achieve. But that does not mean consensus should not be our goal. We should take counsel from past legislative victories, which show that broad victories produce lasting reform, whereas narrow partisan power plays tend to yield only rancor and repeated attempts to repeal.

Restoring the Senate

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. My experience throughout the last four decades has confirmed to me the wisdom of the first Adlai Stevenson, then Vice President, who in his 1897 farewell address captured the essence of the Senate: “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.”

In recent years, these foundations of the Senate’s unique character—meaningful debate and an open amendment process—have come under sustained assault by those that have prioritized scoring political points over preserving the Senate’s essential role in our system of self-government.

Rather than simply bemoan this recent institutional damage, we have a duty to use this new Congress to restore the Senate. By returning to regular order and committee work, promoting robust debate, and enabling a deliberative amendment process, we can make the Senate work again.

Resuscitating Debate

First, robust debate.

Senators’ ability to engage in meaningful, substantive debate is at the core of the Senate’s identity. Through robust discussion and inclusive deliberation, Senators examine all sides of an issue. We air opposing views and ensure that in haste we do not make worse the problems we are trying to solve. When individual Senators have the right to debate a matter fully, it engenders confidence that the final legislation produced represents the best possible bill upon which the Senate can agree. Many pieces of legislation that seemed imperfect passed this way, and have gone on to benefit the nation greatly.

For over two hundred years, the Senate has provided each member broad prerogative to debate and discuss the critical issues of the day. In the early years of the Republic, visitors flocked to the Senate gallery to hear Senators like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun expound upon matters of national concern. It was here in this body that some of our nation’s most important debates over taxation, slavery, expansion, and foreign affairs took place.

For many years, free-flowing debate was so intertwined with the identity of the Senate that no effective cloture mechanism to cut off debate even existed until well into the twentieth century. And while the need to end debate in certain circumstances is clear, we have strayed too far from this important deliberative tradition. In particular, the practice of filing for cloture at the very same time a bill is brought up for consideration has proliferated to a disturbing degree.

When a full and robust debate has occurred, invoking cloture is often appropriate. But we must not abuse this power by reflexively seeking to cut off debate before it even begins. Let us return to a system where all Senators have a say in what the Senate does, and are able to express their views without getting cut off at the pass.

Restoring an Open Amendment Process

The second Senate hallmark we must restore is an open amendment process. The reason for an open amendment process is to improve legislation. No single member can foresee all contingencies that may arise, or identify all potential pitfalls. There is a reason there are a hundred senators, not just one. More eyes mean more mistakes caught, and more opportunities for improvement.

An open amendment process also facilitates consensus. One amendment may resolve a particular Senator’s concern, allowing him to support what he or she once opposed. Another may make a bill politically palatable to Senators who support the bill in principle, but not in its current form. Amendments may also achieve buy-in, as Senators who successfully amend a bill find themselves more committed to final passage.

When Senators retain the ability to amend legislation, such input can establish a wide and lasting base of support that crosses partisan and ideological lines. Indeed, an open and honest amendment process has frequently enabled diverse coalitions to find important areas of agreement. I even found that the former Senator from Massachusetts, the late Ted Kennedy, the famed liberal lion of the Senate, a man I came to Washington to battle, could be a productive partner—and, in the process, he became one of my closest friends.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, the Senate’s traditionally open amendment process has come under increasing attack. For the sake of shielding electorally vulnerable Senators from tough votes, we have emasculated one of this institution’s most critical characteristics.

Mr./Mme. President, it is time to stop manipulating Senate rules to prevent amendments. It is time to stop blocking amendments for fear of tough votes. It is time to return to the healthier way of doing things, where we work together to improve legislation, rather than doing all we can to keep members out of the process.

Respecting the Committee Process

The third hallmark we must restore is a vigorous and productive committee system. Although perhaps not as moribund as our amendment process, the role our committees play in drafting and refining bills has indeed suffered in recent years.

For centuries, Senate committees have served as the primary forum for both deliberation and amendment in this body. Bills introduced in the Senate are referred to the relevant committee, where members have the opportunity to consider, debate, and amend the bill at length. Committees are the workhorses of the Senate. Here on the floor, we can do only one thing at a time. But any number of committees and subcommittees may operate simultaneously, allowing Senators to work out language and make compromises on multiple bills at the same time.

Committees also perform a crucial investigative function. They hold hearings, call witnesses, and solicit expert opinions on a wide variety of issues, enabling members to expand their understanding and better fine-tune individual bills.

Lately, however, we have witnessed a disturbing trend of bypassing the committee process altogether by bringing bills directly to the floor for votes. This practice undermines committee work and frustrates members who diligently seek to move their legislative priorities through committee. It also deprives bills of the benefits of committee review, which include more searching consideration of language, opportunity for comment by outside experts, and the ability to assess support for amendments without tying up precious floor time.

A healthy committee process is essential to a well-functioning Senate. This body is not a fiefdom. We do not convene merely to give our assent to immutable messaging bills. We are supposed to work together to write, amend, and pass legislation. When Senators bring up for consideration bills they have written without input from other members, manipulate Senate procedure to prevent floor amendments on those bills, and then simultaneously file cloture to cut off debate, they act as autocrats, rather than agents of democracy.

Conclusion

Mr./Mme. President, let’s return this body to one that operates by consensus, not dictate. Let’s return the committee process to its proper place in our legislative landscape, as the first line of review, rather than an utter irrelevancy.

Let us restore the Senate to its proper role in our constitutional system by restoring the traditions that have made this body so great: robust debate; an open amendment process; and an active, meaningful committee process. Equipped with these tools, the Senate historically never shied away from taking on what everyone agreed were the toughest issues of the day.

Yes, we had to take tough votes;

Yes, we could not rush legislation through as fast as we sometimes would have liked;

And yes, we sometimes felt deep disappointment when proposals we championed fell short. But while the Senate’s rules can be frustrating and politically cumbersome, they are what allowed the Senate to serve the country so very well for so very long.

Restoring the Senate in this manner will not be easy. After years of bitter partisan tension, we cannot expect a complete change to come overnight. But by reestablishing our historic aims and reinstituting our defining modes of operation—including robust debate, an open amendment process, and regular order through committee work—the Senate can once more be about the people’s business and deserve the title of the world’s greatest deliberative body. 

            Thank you, Mr./Mme. President.

Fact Sheet

Background on the office of Senate President Pro Tempore

  • The office of President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate is one of only three officers established by the U.S. Constitution.
  • Since 1947, the President pro tempore has stood third in line to succeed to the presidency, after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House.
  • Since 1890, the President pro tempore has customarily been the majority party Senator with the longest continuous service.
  • The role of the President Pro Tempore can be broken down into three categories: (1) Presiding over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President and helping to encourage proper process and decorum, (2) preparing for continuity of government as third in line in succession to the Presidency, and (3) acting as an elder statesman within the institution, helping to build consensus and enable the Senate to legislate effectively.
  • The office of President Pro Tempore is a platform to articulate a compelling policy vision and support the party’s leaders in realizing that vision through substantive legislation that is enacted into law. 
  • With the tremendous growth in threats to our national security, such as the metastasizing of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Africa, the continued aggression of Russia and Iran’s apparent continued development of nuclear capabilities, the President Pro Tempore will also serve as an important voice of “advising and warning” the Senate and the American people. 

Senator Hatch as Pro Tem:

  • In a speech in October, Senator Hatch said “prudent lawmakers make experience, not theory, their guide and recognize that success requires harmonizing competing values.” As one of the most effective lawmakers, who has seen more of his bills enacted into law than any other current Member, Senator Hatch intends to play a leading role in helping the Senate to once again legislate and to mentor more junior Senators.  
  • Senator Robert Byrd pointed out that the President Pro Tem’s influence on the Senate as an institution and our nation’s policies is largely based upon the specific office holder’s personal initiative and drive. Senator Hatch intends to play an active role in both restoring the Senate to its former place as “the worlds’ greatest deliberative body” and promoting the Republican Party’s vision for America.
  • As President pro tempore, Senator Hatch will use his 38 years of government experience to advise and warn the Senate and the American people as to the threats that continue to grow and evolve today.  

Senator Hatch’s Agenda for Governing

  • As Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate, it’s important for the Republican Party to tell America how we will right the ship and solve today’s pressing problems.
  • Republicans have an opportunity to present a positive, conservative, reform-oriented agenda that will show the American people that we are the party of solutions, the party that can bring our nation out of its current malaise and restore it to growth and prosperity.
  • The new Congress has an opportunity to shift the role the federal government plays in fostering entrepreneurship and economic growth, encouraging research and development to drive our prosperity and quality of life in the decades to come.
  • In October at the Reagan Ranch in California, Senator Hatch outlined a conservative governing agenda for the next Congress.  It includes (1) patient-centered health reforms to enhance choice and restrain costs, (2) tax reform to spur economic growth and create jobs, (3) regulatory reform to remove unnecessary burdens on businesses and entrepreneurs, (4) technology policy to promote continued innovation, and (5) a mobility agenda to help all Americans to have opportunities to thrive.

On Specific Initiatives that Can Become Law

  • Senator Hatch sees tremendous opportunities to reform health care. In particular, there is a great deal of agreement among both parties on eliminating the medical device tax.
  • Senator Hatch plans to ensure that Trade Promotion Authority keeps America competitive in international markets and allows for another round of free trade agreements.
  • The Senate can also address the enormous economic drag of abusive patent litigation through common-sense reforms to our patent laws to ensure that American resources are used to innovate and create jobs, not wasted to settle or litigate frivolous claims.
  • Another way to protect America’s innovation is to create a harmonized, uniform federal standard for protecting trade secrets. Trade secrets, such as customer lists, formulas, and manufacturing processes, are an essential form of intellectual property and deserve full protection.
  • The new Congress has an opportunity to enhance America’s competitive workforce through immigration reform that will streamline the hiring process for high-skilled individuals entering the United States and by investing in STEM education and training.
  • These are just a few of the bipartisan initiatives Senator Hatch plan to ensure are considered closely by the new Congress and that with cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, as well as between Congress and the White House, for the good of the American people and the U.S. economy.