Orrin Hatch, polite Republican senator, dies aged 88 According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump presents the 2018 Presidential Medal of Freedom to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. November 16, 2018. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / File Photo

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Orrin Hatch, a polite Republican senator from Utah who advocates for deep tax cuts, anti-terrorism legislation and a child health program while fighting for judicial candidates conservative, passed away Saturday, aged 88.

His death was announced by the nonprofit Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, which said he died surrounded by family in Salt Lake City.

Feedback from fellow lawmakers, some of whom have known Hatch for decades, began to flood the internet late Saturday as news of his death spread.

“This breaks my heart,” Wyoming Governor Spencer Cox tweeted. “Utah mourns the Hatch family.”

Longtime friend and senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, said on Twitter (NYSE:): “Orrin is the man I would turn to for wisdom and we have the same thing.” a love for Jesus and all that we hold dear.”

Utah Senator Mike Lee posted that Hatch was “a friend, a mentor, and an example” to him in his career. “His name and memory will forever be etched in the history of the United States Senate and the State of Utah,” Lee wrote.

A longtime conservative voice in Congress, Hatch held a Senate seat from 1977 to 2019 and served under eight presidents, beginning with the waning days of Gerald’s term. Ford and ended with Donald Trump’s first two years in office. He served in the Senate longer than any other Republican ever.

Trump awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in 2018.

Hatch fiercely supported conservative Supreme Court candidates including Robert Bork – nominated by Reagan in 1987 but rejected by the Senate – as well as Clarence Thomas, nominated in 1991 by the Republican Party. George W. Bush and narrowly confirmed by the Senate, and Brett Kavanaugh, nominated by the Republican Party of Trump and also confirmed by the Senate in 2018.

Hatch, a lay minister in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a fighter for religious freedom and an opponent of abortion rights, represents the state that is home to the House. worshipers of Mormons and was one of the most important Mormons in public life in American History.

He was elected to seven six-year terms as Utah’s longest serving senator. His first election victory was spurred by an endorsement from future President Ronald Reagan. Hatch ran for his party’s 2000 presidential nomination but was eliminated early in the race.

He was known for his polite demeanor and enjoyed writing poetry and songs, but displayed a short temper. He held powerful positions including chairman of the highly influential Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees.

Hatch was one of the architects of the Patriot Act, passed after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by the Islamic militant network al Qaeda. The act expanded the government’s ability to track potential terrorists, among other steps, broadening its surveillance powers.

Critics of the law call it an invasion of individual liberties. Hatch calls it constitutional, legal, and effective.

Hatch is the driving force behind a package of deep Republican tax cuts that especially benefit corporations and the wealthy that Trump sought and signed in 2017, despite stiff opposition. of the Democratic Party. The tax cuts are projected to increase the federal deficit.


Hatch was a staunch conservative but was sometimes divided with other conservatives. He is willing to work with Democrats to pass a number of bipartisan bills and often does so with close friend Edward Kennedy, a libertarian who passed away in 2009.

The two senators teamed up in 1997 to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, in which the federal government helps states provide health care coverage for children in families with disabilities. low income. The program has provided medical care to millions of children whose families earned too much to qualify for the larger Medicaid health care program for the poor but still couldn’t afford private health insurance. core.

He advocates for the nutritional supplement industry that Utah is at the heart of. He authored a law that allowed companies to make health claims about products but removed them from federal assessments of safety or effectiveness. Hatch played a key role in Trump’s 2017 action to shrink the million-acre Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah, a move condemned by conservationists.

Once a boxer, he took off his gloves while fighting for conservative judicial candidates. He defended Thomas from the sexual harassment allegation by reading aloud the horror novel “The Exorcist” during confirmation hearings, implying that the nominated accuser was citing deplorable details about her allegation from the book.

Hatch defended Trump nominee Kavanaugh after he was accused of sexually assaulting her by a woman years earlier, telling anti-Kavanaugh protesters he would speak to them when they “grow up”.

Hatch was born on March 22, 1934 in Pennsylvania and grew up in a poor family in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression. He practiced law after graduating from college and was completely unknown when he decided to run for the Senate in Utah in 1976.

He emerged from obscurity when Reagan, a conservative activist, endorsed him ahead of the Republican primaries. Hatch then upset three-term Democratic incumbent Senator Frank Moss in the general election. That election heralded the rise of conservatives nationally in 1980 and the decline of the Democratic Party in many Western states.

Early in his career, he called the Democrats “the party of homosexuals.” In 1990, he told the New York Times, “I have to say that was stupid. I deserve to apologize for saying it.”

In 1988, Hatch had a confrontation on the Senate floor with conservative North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms, who introduced an amendment that would obfuscate Hatch’s bipartisan AIDS act by banning federal funds that “promote or encourage…gay activity”.

“I’m not sure I should be standing here on the floor of the US Senate and giving the verdict to anyone,” Hatch told Helms.

He added: “Those who have not sinned should throw the first stone.

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

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