Former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in US history, died in Salt Lake City on Saturday at the age of 88.
Hatch, the former interim president of the Senate, served in the chamber for 42 years from 1977 to 2019. The Hatch Foundation confirmed his death in a statement that did not include a cause.
A. said. Scott Anderson, President of the Hatch Foundation: “Oren J. Hatch was a man of wisdom, kindness, character, and compassion, and he was all that an American Senator should be.” He personified a generation of legislators raised on the principles of courtesy and compromise, and he personified these principles better than anyone else. In a divided nation, Oren Hatch helped show us a better way by making meaningful friendships on both sides of the aisle.”
An ardent conservative, Hatch favored corporate tax cuts, limited government, deregulation and military spending during his time in office. He has consistently voted against gay rights, abortion, and stricter gun laws; He reached across the aisle on issues including AIDS education and stem cell research as well as the DREAM Act.
As a leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch launched the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 during the Trump administration, which has been hailed as the biggest change in tax law in three decades and criticized for favoring businesses and the wealthy.
Hatch also drew criticism for helping then-President Donald Trump dismantle the remains of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah.
Hatch announced in January 2018 that he would not seek re-election, shortly after calling for his local newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, to step down. His retirement paved the way for Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican and 2012 presidential candidate, to return to the elected office by running for his seat. Romney was and remains a Trump critic.
Before Hatch’s retirement was announced, then-President Trump urged him to stay in Washington. During a 2017 event in Utah, Trump called Hatch a “real fighter” and said he hoped the Republican would continue to serve “in the Senate for a long time to come.”
At the time of announcing Hatch’s retirement, then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was “extremely sad to see Senator Hatch leave.”
Hatch spoke at the time about the growing partisanship in Congress.
“My heart is heavy because it aches at times when we have already lived up to our reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Hatch said in a farewell address to the Senate in December 2018. “He longs for the days when Democrats and Republicans will meet on middle ground rather than retreat to the trenches partisanship.
Hatch has served through the administrations of seven US presidents and has worked with nine Senate majority leaders. During his tenure, he served as Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. In 2000, Hatch submitted a bid for the Republican presidential nomination but lost to former President George W. Bush.
He has authored and co-authored numerous landmark legislation such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to his foundation’s release.
President Joe Biden, who served with Hatch in the Senate for 32 years, referred to his late colleague as a “fighter” who “never laughed at the bully, or evaded a challenge” but was also “a man of deep faith; a kind soul.”
“This was Oren who looked after people who often had no voice in our laws and our country. I saw this in his efforts to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” the president said in a statement Sunday.
Hatch’s tenure on the Judiciary Committee coincided with the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. During the Senate confirmation hearings for Thomas, Hatch suggested that Anita Hill, who had testified that Thomas sexually harassed her when he was her boss, fabricated some of her allegations. (Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time.) Hatch was also a supporter of Trump Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
The late senator was also president emeritus of the Hatch Foundation, which focuses on civic engagement and political discourse and is home to his legislative records.
“Senator Oren J. Hatch embodied the American dream,” Matt Sandgren, executive director of the Hatch Foundation, said in his release.
Born the son of a carpenter and gypsum foamer, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States Senator. With the difficulties of his upbringing always on his mind, he made his life mission to expand freedom and opportunity for others – and the results speak for themselves. From taxes and commerce to religious freedom and health care, few lawmakers have had a greater impact on American life than Oren Hatch,” Sandgren said.
Trump remembered Hatch as a “true warrior for our country, for freedom, and for his beloved state of Utah,” in a statement. Posted on Twitter From his spokesperson Liz Harrington.
Incumbent elected officials also responded to the news of Hatch’s death on Saturday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, praised Hatch’s leadership for leading an “endless list of major legislative accomplishments and historic affirmations.”
Romney on Twitter a favour Hatch as “a man of unparalleled vision and legislative achievement”.
He said, “Our cause, our economy and our national character are better and safer thanks to his years of leadership.”
Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee described Hatch as “a giant of the Senate and a pillar of the Senate” in their state.
“Oren has been a friend, mentor, and example to me and countless others. I have seen countless times how his brilliant mind, quick wit, and care for his country, his country, and his colleagues have turned insidious problems into clear paths forward,” he told me on Twitter. “His example of selfless and principled statesmanship and consistent fellowship has been missed but will never be forgotten.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, He said On Twitter, Hatch “was kind to me and we worked really well together. There were a lot of differences including party, height, age…you name it…but somehow we were always looking for common ground.”
“It breaks my heart,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said in a tweet. “Abby and I are so grateful for the opportunities we had to spend time with this wonderful public servant. He was always so kind and generous with his time and wisdom. Utah grieves with the Hatch family.”
Hatch was born in 1934 and raised in a poor mill town outside of Pittsburgh. He has spoken about how the loss of his brother Jesse at a young age, who died during World War II, affected him. Hatch, a devout Mormons, was a prolific writer of religious music. In the late 1960s, Hatch moved to Utah where he practiced law and raised a family.
Hatch is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six children.
This story has been updated with additional information.