Associated Press ||
Orrin G. Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history who was a fixture in Utah politics for more than four decades, died Saturday at age 88.
His death 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 teamed with Democrats several times during his long career on issues ranging from stem cell research to rights for people with disabilities to expanding children’s health insurance. He also formed friendships across the aisle, particularly with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Hatch also championed GOP issues like abortion limits and helped shape the U.S. Supreme Court, including defending Justice Clarence Thomas against sexual harassment allegations during confirmation hearings.
He later became an ally of Republican President Donald Trump, using his role as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee to get a major rewrite of the U.S. tax codes to the president’s desk.
In return, Trump helped Hatch deliver on a key issue for Republicans in Utah with a contentious move to drastically downsize two national monuments that had been declared by past presidents.
Hatch retired in 2019. Through Trump had encouraged him to run again, the longtime senator would have faced a tough primary battle and had promised to retire.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, praised Hatch’s legislative acumen.
“Orrin’s decades of leadership drove an unending catalog of major legislative accomplishments and landmark confirmations,” McConnell said in a statement. “He entered the Senate as a young principled conservative in the 1970s when the modern conservative movement was in its infancy. He held to his principles his whole career, and applied them to issues like the historic 2017 tax reform law and the work of the Judiciary Committee to the enormous benefit of our country.”
Hatch was also noted for his side career as a singer and recording artist of music with themes of his religious faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six children.
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