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Alexander Calls for Bipartisanship as He Prepares to Leave Senate

As he prepares to leave the Senate in a month, Senator Lamar Alexander urged senators to find a way again to work across party lines to pass measures dealing with the nation’s major problems by wide margins.

The Republican senator, in a farewell address on the Senate floor before his term ends Jan. 3, cited Congress’s creation of Medicare and a 2013 vote tying interest rates for student loans to market rates, saving student borrowers hundreds of billions.

“Those laws didn’t just pass. They passed by wide margins. The country accepted them. And they are going to be there for a long time,” said Alexander, former president of the University of Tennessee and education secretary under President George H. W. Bush.

What the Senate should not do, he said, is to eliminate the filibuster as Senate Democrats are proposing should they win control of the chamber to ram through measures without Republican support. Republicans would simply undo what Democrats pass when they eventually take back control, he said. “Is such back-and-forth and back-and-forth what a fractured country really needs?” he said.

“You don’t have to eliminate the filibuster to restore the Senate to its traditional role of working across party lines to solve big problems,” he said. “We don’t need a change of rules. The Senate needs a change of behavior.”

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