Former senator Hutchison to talk role of democracy



With a career in politics that spanned four decades, former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison knows a few things about how Washington operates, especially the importance of a functioning — or lack thereof — democratic government.

As news outlets churn out daily headlines about political gridlock, Hutchison will speak to her experience as a politician, her world travels and the importance of democratic preservation at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.     

“I’ve come to respect the works of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution,” Hutchison said. “I will be talking about the Constitution and what it has done for the preservation of our democracy and talk about some of the challenges of the balance of powers in the Constitution and why it’s important.”

Hutchison graduated from the University of Texas Law with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1967, but too few law firms hired women during the era. When the opportunity to pursue politics seemed unlikely, Hutchison took a different route.

“I looked for a job for several months and decided that I would use my law degree in a more creative way, [and] when I got an offer for a job to be a television news reporter it changed my life,” Hutchison said. “It’s the old story of when a door closes, open a window, and that was my window.”

After covering the Texas Legislature as a broadcast reporter, Hutchison broke into the historically patriarchal politics in the South to eventually became the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. Before leaving her role in the public sector, lawmakers renamed a bill granting spousal individual retirement accounts the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA to commend her efforts for women. 

While in the Senate, Hutchison was a part of seven committees and chaired four subcommittees that included Appropriations’ Military Construction subcommittee; Appropriations’ District of Columbia subcommittee; Commerce’s Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine subcommittee; and Commerce’s Science and Space Subcommittee.

Her experiences weren’t without roadblocks, though — a theme she hopes to touch on at the morning lecture.

“I think the gridlock that we see between Congress and the president affects the balance of powers, and it affects the workings of our government,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison, who left office in 2013, now serves as senior counsel at Bracewell & Giuliani, an international law firm.

“I am happy to be in the private sector,” Hutchison said in an interview with The Guardian in 2014. “I love the variety of what I am doing and I always felt that it was fulfilling to be able to make a difference in a good way. But if you are not making a difference, it’s not as fulfilling to have a position in Congress. Right now, it’s very hard to feel fulfilled when there’s such a stalemate.”