Nicole Hager, 202-224-4515
Hatch Reflects on Success, Achievements at Finance Committee
Utah Senator Says Serving on the Finance Committee has been an “honor and a privilege”
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) spoke today on the Senate floor about his Finance Committee service, both as a member of the committee and its chairman:
“Recently in the Finance Committee, we have worked on tax reform, a 10 year CHIP extension, a critical 5 year extension of the highway trust fund, TPA and the other trade bills,” Hatch said. “I can say with great confidence that most of these accomplishments would not have borne fruit without help from…many of our friends on the committee.”
His full remarks can be found below:
I am genuinely touched by the kind words and thoughts from my respected colleagues.
Senators Grassley, Portman, Toomey, and Cassidy—you are all dear friends, and I am grateful for your comments. But more than that, I am deeply grateful for your friendship and the impact your dedication and patriotism have had on me. Of course, that also holds true for all members of the Finance Committee with whom I have had the honor and privilege serving.
Recently in the Finance Committee, we passed comprehensive tax reform, a 10-year CHIP extension, a critical 5-year extension of the highway trust fund, and TPA, along with several other trade bills. I can say with great confidence that most of these accomplishments would not have borne fruit without help from each of you, and many of our friends on the committee.
Today, Mr. President, marks one of the last times I will have the opportunity of standing before the Senate to speak on my work within the Finance Committee’s vast jurisdiction and the fights and victories I have been a part of. While we may not have been able to close on many of these achievements until recently, they have all been built on hard work that I, other members of the committee and the wider Senate have engaged in over the past few decades. For example, earlier this year, I was very happy to see a 10-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.
Ten years—that’s the longest CHIP extension in the history of the program, a program that provides insurance to over 9 million children a year. Creating CHIP was a bipartisan model of success. Senator Ted Kennedy and I were only able to pass CHIP the first time because we both were willing to cross the aisle to see this program succeed. This bipartisan work ethic extended to many of pieces of legislation I worked on while on the Finance Committee.
In 2015, we were able to renew Trade Promotion Authority, which is one of the most important tools Congress has, and allows us to work hand in hand with the executive branch to advance our nation’s trade agenda. TPA helps to ensure our trade agreements are held to the highest standard.
Not every piece of legislation I am proud of has gone through without a fight though.
We can’t forget last winter, when I was so proud to be a part of shaping the historic tax reform legislation that is boosting economic growth, lowering unemployment and spurring job creation. We worked hard at the Finance Committee to fix the broken tax code and by all counts, it appears that we did a pretty good job. This legislation was built on years and years of work at the Finance Committee. I led the creation of working groups, released option papers and recommendations and held 70 hearings on how to improve the tax code since I became the top Republican on the Finance Committee. As part of tax reform, we were also able to repeal the individual mandate tax, which forced Americans to buy health insurance they did not want or could not afford.
These are just a few of the accomplishments that I have been privileged enough to shepherd through during my service. And while I am proud of these accomplishments, there is always more to be done. Which is why, in addition to thanking all of my friends, colleagues, and mentors throughout the years, I’d also like to share some parting words of advice that I’ve picked up through my work on the Finance Committee, for those who will remain and join this chamber. I see these next few years as critical to the future of our country, to the future of our ideals, and to the future of freedom. As such, Mr. President, I have a few suggestions I’d like to make to my colleagues.
First, be earnest, be honest, and guard your integrity.
If we cannot take the time to think deeply about an issue, to reason it out, and speak honestly among ourselves and our constituents, it will be impossible to enact lasting and meaningful change. To quote my good friend Senator Kennedy, “integrity is the lifeblood of democracy. Deceit is a poison in its veins.” That means sometimes, often when it is least convenient, we must speak the hard truths. That process will often lead to discord, falling short, or struggling for years to fix vexing problems or disagreements. And, as Winston Churchill once famously said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
So, have courage and act.
Second, if you don’t care who gets the credit, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.
In politics, this can be a hard sentiment to swallow. But focusing on taking the credit more often than not undermines outcomes. Most of the pieces of legislation I am most proud of had dozens of cosponsors, were widely seen as bipartisan, and have remained on the books largely because I did not get everything I wanted. An article of my faith is “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” That article speaks only to results and not at all about taking the credit. The more I learned to focus on that principle, the better off I have been.
Finally, be grateful, be kind, and be quick to forgive.
At the end of the day, my friends, we are all people, and people often disagree. Our differences may be as innumerable as our similarities. But, if we start with the premise that every member’s intent is to improve our country and the life of its citizens, then our disagreements are logistical, not personal.
Mr. President, I have always truly believed that just about every member of this body wants to do the right thing for the American people. But, they sometimes want to go about it in different ways. What we must never do is question a fellow Senator’s dedication to their country. We must never question their dedication to democracy. And we should never disparage them personally when each of us has given so much.
Our job in Congress is the difficult task of aggregating disparate preferences and molding them into laws that make peoples’ lives better. That leads to what many describe as sausage making. The process generates heated debates, and sometimes rancor. Yet, I have no doubt about the convictions to do good on the part of all of my esteemed colleagues on the Finance Committee and in Congress in general.
With that, Mr. President, and all of my colleagues, thank you and God bless.
Background: Hatch has been chairman of the Finance Committee since 2015, and served as Ranking Member for four years before that. Hatch has been a member of the committee since the June of 1991.
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