WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the Republicans taking control of the United States Senate in the wake of 2015 midterm elections, Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch finds himself in a new position within the Senate as its president pro tempore. He was sworn into the position Tuesday.
The position, which has traditionally been given to the longest-serving senator of the majority party, since 1890, is one of the few government positions outlined in the Constitution. The only others are the offices of president and vice president.
As president pro tempore, Hatch will preside over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. The new position also makes Hatch third-in-line for the presidency as a measure to preserve the continuity of government.
“It’s a real honor; there’s no question about that,” Hatch told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s not just ceremonial, it’s a position of leadership and I feel very honored.”
According to a statement from Hatch’s office, part of his responsibilities include “acting as an elder statesman within the institution, helping to build consensus and enable the Senate to legislate effectively” and “helping to encourage proper process and decorum” within the Senate.
“Sen. Hatch has accumulated three of the most valuable commodities in D.C.: seniority, a history of bipartisan success and a great title,” said Kirk Jowers, head of the Hinkley Institute of Politicis at the University of Utah, according to Deseret News.
Hatch has been in office since 1976 and is currently serving his seventh term.
“Sen. 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,” the statement read. “Sen. Hatch intends to play an active role in both restoring the Senate to its former place as ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body’ and promoting the Republican Party’s vision for America.”
The president pro tempore, Hatch, will also use his experience “to advise and warn the Senate and the American people as to the threats that continue to grow and evolve today,” according to the statement.
As Republicans take control of the Senate, Hatch said, it is important for the party to tell the American people how it will steer the country in the proper direction.
“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 statement read.
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