The Senate's most senior Republican on Thursday bashed current Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Dem: Congress could need brief funding extension Reid to media: Your work is more important than ever Free speech is a right, not a political weapon MORE (D-Nev.), saying with the GOP in charge, there was potential for real accomplishments.
In a phone interview with The Hill, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Mnuchin's former bank comes under scrutiny MORE (R-Utah) called the last four years "the most pathetic, pitiful way I've seen the Senate run in all my 38 years — and I've seen some pretty pathetic, pitiful times."
"People are sick of it. Even Democrats, a number of them by the way, said we've got to change this. We can't live with this type of impasse all the time," said Hatch.
The blame, he added, rests with the Democratic leader.
"Reid is one of my friends, but he's been a pathetic majority leader as far as I'm concerned," Hatch said. "He thought he was doing right by protecting his side, but I think the American people resented him because he got nothing done."
Hatch noted that most of the nearly 400 bills passed by the GOP-led House "couldn't get the time of day in the Harry Reid Senate" — even those that had some Democratic support.
"There's no reason for the low approval rating of the House — they did their job, Democrats and Republicans. The Senate did not," he said.
But now, said Hatch, by working with the GOP Congress, President Obama can leave office in two years with legislation to be proud of.
"He could walk out of there with some achievements that would be of note," Hatch said.
Following a midterm election that was disastrous for Democrats, Obama said Wednesday that he was "open" to working with Republicans on areas of mutual interest such as tax reform, quipping that he would also "enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell."
Hatch, who is set to become the Senate's president pro tempore after his party netted at least seven seats to win control, is likely to seize the gavel of the powerful, tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. And reforming the tax code is among his top priorities in the new Congress, which also include repealing a medical device tax under ObamaCare, passing pending trade bills and approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
"True tax reform is very difficult to do. It took three years to do the '86 bill," Hatch said, referring to the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
"I don't think we have three years. I think we've got a year and a half, two years. And I think we can do it. We may have to do it in stages, but I think we can do it," he said, referring specifically to corporate tax reform bill.
Hatch said he has chatted with the Finance Committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenHoyer pushes White House for briefing on Russian election interference This Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Senate passes college anti-Semitism bill MORE of Oregon, and expressed optimism.
Asked about the party's brand amid swirling enthusiasm for the GOP's midterm dominance, Hatch pointed to Republican gains among Hispanics, independents, women and youth as "very, very intelligent signs."
He also admitted the large role played by an unpopular president.
With the 2016 presidential cycle already up and running, Hatch said Republicans "probably have a year, a year and three months, to get some things done" and show progress on key issues.
And for legislation to pass, Democrats will have to do their part, he said.
"Hopefully this election will wake up the people who are in the White House. I think they are the big problem, and I also think the president is a big problem, too, but he's indicated he wants to work with us. We'll see."