Exactly one year to the day after Sen. Lamar Alexander announced he would step down from his post as the third-ranking GOP member of the Senate to play a more bipartisan role, the senator called on voters to play their part in establishing a Republican-controlled Senate this November.
In remarks made on the Senate floor, Alexander chastised his Democrat colleagues for preventing the body from approving a budget along with appropriations bills and suggested the cure for a "do-nothing Senate" would to be to send more Republicans to Washington.
"Being elected to the Senate and not being allowed to vote on appropriations bills is like being invited to join the Grand Ole Opry and not being allowed to sing," Alexander said. "The country needs a Republican Senate. If we get one, we'll have a budget. If we get one, we'll bring appropriations bills to the floor—we'll debate them, we'll amend them, we'll vote on them, and we'll do our job."
Alexander's statements came 1,240 days since a budget has been adopted by the Senate. When the senator announced he would be stepping down as Republican Conference chairman last year, he said the decision was based out of a desire to take a more aggressive stance on issues facing the country, in a Senate divided by partisanship.
Despite Alexander's calls for a GOP-dominated upper chamber, the senator has shown to be an advocate for less-popular positions on policies among his fellow Republicans since foregoing his leadership position. The senator has backed upholding an EPA-established clean air rule and has also worked among a group of senators to craft a bipartisan solution to the nation's growing fiscal crisis, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Along with several of his Democrat and Republican colleagues, the senator has been examining different policy options to introduce after November's elections to prevent a combination of tax cuts and automatic spending cuts set to go into effect at year's end, known as the "fiscal cliff." Alexander is not the only senator from Tennessee working on a plan that could be introduced during a lame-duck session—Sen. Bob Corker has repeatedly hinted at a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package geared at reforming the nation's fiscal issues after the election.