Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Tribute to Senator Hatfield

Posted on September 8, 2011

Mr. ALEXANDER. Mark Hatfield was elected to the Senate in 1966. It was a distinguished class that included some prominent Republicans, sort of a new wave in the Republican Party. In addition to Governor Hatfield, a former two-term Governor, there was Charles Percy of Illinois, former President of Bell & Howell; there was Ed Brooke of Massachusetts, the first African American popularly elected to the Senate.

Also in that Republican class were Cliff Hansen, a prominent rancher from Wyoming, and a young man who was a son-in-law of then-Republican leader, Everett Dirksen, Howard H. Baker, Jr.

I hitched a ride with Howard Baker to Washington, DC, in that year and went to work as Baker's legislative assistant in 1967, and, of course, had a chance to meet Senator Hatfield. At that time, there was less space for Senators than there is even today. So new Senators were put into rooms with each other. For example, Senator Baker and Senator Brooke and all their staffs were put in a single room, separated only by a partition.

They got along with that for 6 months. But Senator Hatfield did not like it very much. After all, he had been a Governor for two terms and was not used to being treated in that way. He was polite about it, as he always was. But soon he made a mission. He went around the Senate and the Capitol and he counted up all the rooms that then-Senator James Eastland of Mississippi had taken for himself. He found 34 different rooms that were assigned to Senator Eastland and only half a room was assigned to Hatfield.

Senator Hatfield then reported to the Republican conference that Eastland had 34 rooms and that apparently someone was living in one of the rooms because someone from Restaurant Associates was putting a tray of food outside the door of this room in the Capitol and every morning two arms would come out and bring the food in.

This was Senator Hatfield's first report to the Senate. I saw him about 25 years later, when he was chairman of the Appropriations Committee and had a lot of power. I said: Senator Hatfield, how many rooms do you have now? He just smiled. My guess is he probably had 34.

But what I remember about Senator Hatfield, as a very young aide, was how unfailingly courteous he was to every single person. If you caught his attention, you had his full attention. It is easy to see why he was elected to the Senate for 30 years. It is easy to see why he won 11 elections.

Of course, the other reason, he was so interesting. He was a Baptist. He was a Libertarian. He was a great friend of Billy Graham. He was pro-life, not just on abortion but on the death penalty as well. He was antiwar. He was anti-balanced budget. He was an interesting, independent, decent man. I simply wanted to say, from the vantage point of someone who feels privileged to serve in the Senate, what an impression this man from Oregon made on a 26-year-old young aide to Howard Baker in 1967.

I remember him for his courtesy, his decency, and for his independence.

I yield the floor.