Orrin Hatch, longtime Utah GOP senator, dies

Orrin G. Hatch, the longest-serving senator in Utah history, passed away Saturday evening in Salt Lake City surrounded by his family at the age of 88, according to the Hatch Foundation.

The foundation did not provide a cause of death for Hatch, who served from 1977 to 2019.

“Senator Orrin G. Hatch personified the American Dream,” said Matt Sandgren, Executive Director of the Hatch Foundation, in a statement. “Born the son of a carpenter and plaster lather, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States Senator. With the hardships of his upbringing always fresh in his mind, he made it his life’s mission to expand freedom and opportunity for others—and the results speak for themselves.”

The foundation said Hatch worked under the administration of seven presidents in his 42 years as a member of the U.S. Senate, where he also served as president pro tempore. At his retirement in 2019, Hatch had “passed more legislation into law than any other Senator alive,” sponsoring or cosponsoring more than 750 bills that went on to become law.

Former Senator Orrin G. Hatch passed away Saturday evening in Salt Lake City, according to the Hatch Foundation. Above, he waited in the Senate President pro tempore office for the arrival of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the U.S. Capitol July 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

“From tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, few legislators have had a greater impact on American life than Orrin Hatch,” Sandren said. “He was a profoundly positive influence in the lives of those he served, whether they were the constituents he helped over four decades of casework, the hundreds of interns he sponsored in both Utah and DC, or the robust network of Hatch staffers who carry on his legacy to this day. Senator Hatch touched the hearts of countless individuals, and I know I speak for all of them when I say he will be dearly missed.”

Hatch served in numerous positions of leadership and “was one of only a few Senators in history to serve as Chairman of three major Senate Committees: the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee (now called the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, 1981-1987), the Senate Judiciary Committee (1995-2001; 2001; 2003-2005), and the Senate Finance Committee (2015-2019),” according to the foundation.

He spent 32 years as chairman or ranking member of a major committee in his 42 years of service, “an unparalleled record.”

“A man of wisdom, kindness, character, and compassion, Orrin G. Hatch was everything a United States Senator should be,” said A. Scott Anderson, chairman of the Hatch Foundation. “He exemplified a generation of lawmakers brought up on the principles of comity and compromise, and he embodied those principles better than anyone. In a nation divided, Orrin Hatch helped show us a better way by forging meaningful friendships on both sides of the aisle. Today, more than ever, we would do well to follow his example. May we honor Orrin’s memory by living as he lived—committed to our country, to our principles, and to each other.”

Hatch is survived by wife Elaine and their six children.

This is a developing story.

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