Veteran US Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah dies at 88

Veteran US Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah dies at 88

Hatch, a staunch conservative on most economic and social issues, also associated with Democrats several times during his long career in Washington.

Orrin G. Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history and a fixture in Utah politics for more than four decades, has died at age 88.

The retired senator’s death on Saturday was announced in a statement from his foundation, which did not specify a cause.

A staunch conservative on most economic and social issues, he also partnered with Democrats several times during his long career on issues ranging from stem cell research to the rights of people with disabilities to expanding health insurance for Americans. kids. He formed friendships with legislators from the other political party, particularly the late Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

President Joe Biden, who served with Hatch in the Senate for three decades, described the Republican lawmaker on Sunday as a fighter for causes he believed in, but with a softer side that included writing songs and poems that he shared with friends.

“Serving with Orrin, as I have for more than three decades, was seeing and appreciating both,” Biden said in a statement. “I saw that energetic and astute Orrin in the many battles we had over tax policy, the right of workers to join a union, and many others.”

Hatch championed Republican issues like limits on abortion and helped shape the US Supreme Court, including defending Justice Clarence Thomas against allegations of sexual harassment during confirmation hearings.

He later became an ally of Republican President Donald Trump, using his role as chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee to get a major rewrite of the US tax codes on the president’s desk. In return, Trump helped Hatch deliver on a key issue for Republicans in Utah with a controversial move to slash the size of two national monuments established by previous presidents.

Hatch retired in 2019. Trump encouraged him to run again, but the senator reportedly faced a tough primary and vowed to withdraw. Hatch encouraged Republican Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, to run to replace him.

“Few men have made their mark on the Senate like he has,” Romney wrote in a tribute to his friend and predecessor, praising his “legislative vision and accomplishments.”

Former Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa released a statement recalling Hatch’s help in securing conservative support for the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which Hatch would later rank as one of his most important achievements.

“Orrin was always a likable conservative and, until the advent of the Trump administration, he was willing to work with liberals to find common ground and compromise,” Harkin said.

Utah Senator Mike Lee called Hatch “a friend, a mentor and an example to myself and many others.”

Hatch was noted for a parallel career as a singer and recording artist with themes from her religious faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He is survived by his wife, Elaine, and his six children.

Melissa Galbraith
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