Alexander to step down from Senate leadership
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 7:02 pm
Washington – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told colleagues Tuesday that he will step down from the Senate Republican leadership in January when he completes four years as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
“Stepping down will liberate me to work for results on the issues I care the most about,” Alexander said.
“That means stopping runaway regulations and spending. But it also means setting priorities – confronting the timidity that allows runaway health care spending to squeeze out research, scholarships, highways and other government functions that make it easier and cheaper to create jobs. I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues.”
“For four years my leadership job has been to help others succeed, to find a Republican consensus and to suggest a message,” Alexander said.
“There are different ways to offer leadership. After nine years in the Senate, this is how I believe I can now make my greatest contribution.” Alexander said that for these same reasons he does not plan to be a candidate for a leadership position in the next Congress.
“I said to Tennesseans when I first ran for the Senate that I would serve with conservative principles and an independent attitude. I will continue to serve in that same way,” Alexander said.
“I am a very Republican Republican. I intend to be more, not less, in the thick of resolving serious issues. And I plan to run for re-election in 2014.”
In December 2007, Senate Republicans chose Alexander to succeed conference chairman Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) when Kyl succeeded Sen. Trent Lott, of Mississippi, as whip. Alexander was re-elected without opposition in November 2008 and again in November 2010.
In January, he will have served the equivalent of two full terms as Conference Chairman.
Alexander gave the following remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday:
“These are serious times. Every American’s job is on the line.
“The Senate was designed to be the forum for confronting the most difficult issues producing the biggest disagreements. I don’t buy for one minute the notion that such policy disagreements produce an unhealthy lack of civility. Those who believe that debates today are more fractious than before have no sense of American history. They have forgotten what Adams and Jefferson said of one another; that Vice President Burr killed former Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton; that on the streets of Washington, Congressman Sam Houston caned an Ohio Congressman who had opposed President Jackson’s Indian Policy; that a South Carolina congressman nearly beat to death Senator Charles Sumner; and that Senator Henry Cabot Lodge often said he hated President Woodrow Wilson. What of the venomous debates before and during the Civil War, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Watergate era, and the Vietnam War?
“The main difference between now and then is that now, because of so much media, everyone instantly hears or sees differences of opinion.”