Source: Roll Call | Niels Lesniewski | December 12, 2019

Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is chairman of both the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Energy-Water Subcommittee, has been in the mix on much of the recent bargaining.

“I think that members of Congress, like the American people, are maybe coming to the conclusion that there’s more to life than judges and impeachment, even though judges and impeachment are very important,” the Tennessee Republican told CQ Roll Call. “I suspect that feeling will grow if we go to an impeachment trial in January. I think when we come out of that I expect there to be a strong appetite for bipartisan legislation that’s important to the country.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has prioritized confirming the president’s lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary over almost all other Senate business, except for must-pass measures.

Using the “walk and chew gum” metaphor, Alexander highlighted, among other matters, recently passed legislation to streamline the process for FDA approval of new ingredients sold in drugs without a prescription, or updating the labels for over-the-counter products.

He also praised the recent passage of a bipartisan deal that would provide $255 million annually for historically black colleges and universities and advance one of his top priorities: a streamlined federal student aid form.

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