WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) – After three decades in the U.S. Senate, Arlen Specter delivered his final speech on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
Sen. Specter is Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator.
He lost the Democratic primary last May to Joe Sestak, who went on to lose the general election to Republican Pat Toomey.
On the Senate floor, he did not recite his legacy as many do. Instead, he challenged the institution where he served most of his life.
Specter lost no time criticizing the Senate for its current gridlock caused by what he said was the lack of Senate bipartisanship.
“Senators on both side sides of the aisle engaged in collegial debate and found ways to find common ground on the nation’s pressing problems,” Specter said.
Part of the problem, said Specter, was the loss of the 15 Republican moderates in the Senate when he first arrived.
“I found my colleague John Heinz there,” he said. “That’s a far cry from later years when moderates could fit into a telephone booth.”
Moderates in both parties were willing to compromise.
“n some quarters, compromise has become a dirty word,” Specter said. “Senators insist on ideological purity as a precondition.”
Specter offered a number of rule changes to break gridlock, including a return to the old-fashioned filibuster that blocked action for only as long as senators talked.
“Senators would have to have a talking filibuster, not merely present a notice of intent,” he said.
As for himself, Specter insisted it wasn’t really over.
“I do not say farewell to my continuing involvement in public policy which I will pursue in a different venue,” he said.
Specter has survived a brain tumor, cardiac arrest and bypass surgery. He’s also had two bouts with Hodgkin’s disease.