Former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah died on Saturday at age 88.Hatch’s Senate career spanned more than four decades, overseeing a long list of accomplishments.Hatch died in Salt Lake City surrounded by family, the Hatch Foundation announced.LoadingSomething is loading.Longtime Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch died on Saturday at age 88.The Hatch Foundation announced in a statement the former senator passed away at 5:30 p.m. in Salt Lake City while surrounded by family.After growing up in poverty-stricken Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the Great Depression , Hatch rose through the ranks of society to become a lawyer and one of the longest-serving legislators in US history.A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hatch graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before earning his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 1962. He practiced law in Pittsburgh before moving to Utah in the late 1960s.Hatch, who in his early years was an amateur boxer, decided to challenge three-term Democratic Sen. Frank Moss in the 1976 Utah Senate race. After unseating Moss, Hatch began a career that would span 41 years and a vast array of accomplishments while he chaired the powerful committees on Finance, the Judiciary, and Labor.He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, losing to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.In the final weeks of Hatch’s Senate career, President Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed to civilians by the commander-in-chief. Hatch retired from the Senate in January 2019.Hatch’s Senate career spanned decadesKnown amongst the Capitol Hill press corps for his quick wit and off-the-cuff remarks, Hatch first came to the Senate in 1977. His career was long and accomplished, passing more than 800 bills during his tenure.Hatch’s stock rose in Washington during the Reagan administration.President Ronald Reagan had Hatch on his shortlist to be nominated to the Supreme Court. But according to a 1987 report from The New York Times, Hatch could not serve in the role due to limitations on lawmakers being selected for positions that Congress elevated the pay for while serving in Congress. During the Bill Clinton administration, Hatch shepherded one of his signature accomplishments through Senate, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Partnering with the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, CHIP provided health insurance coverage to millions of children across the United States.In the eight years under President Barack Obama, Hatch was like most Republicans, fighting tooth and nail against Democratic achievements like the Affordable Care Act.Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1980.AP Photo/Charles W. HarrityHatch at one point referred to supporters of the landmark health care law as stupid and “dumbass people.””That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen,” he said during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Now some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met.”In the final few years of his Senate tenure, Hatch played a pivotal role in some of the most high-profile accomplishments of the entirely Republican-led government from 2017-2018 while serving as the Senate’s President Pro Tempore. He helmed the Senate Finance Committee during the 2017 passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, largely seen as the primary legislative achievement of Trump’s presidency.Hatch was a member of the Judiciary Committee during the tumultuous confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which saw Republicans and Democrats at each other’s throats, a moment which he lamented in his farewell address as one of the low points in the Senate.”If I were to identify the root of our crisis, it would be this: the loss of comity and genuine good feeling among Senate colleagues,” he said. “Comity is the cartilage of the Senate — the soft connective tissue that cushions impact between opposing joints. But in recent years, that cartilage has been ground to a nub. All movement has become bone on bone.””Our ideas grate against each other with increasing frequency — and with nothing to absorb the friction. We hobble to get any bipartisan legislation to the Senate floor, much less to the President’s desk,” Hatch added in his last floor speech just before Christmas in 2018. “The pain is excruciating, and it is felt by the entire nation.”In 2019, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney succeeded Hatch in the seat left vacant by his retirement.How he changed throughout the yearsIn some areas, Hatch changed and evolved through the years. In the realm of LGBT rights, Hatch was an ardent supporter of keeping marriage between a man and a woman. In early moments of his career, he took such harsh tones on gay Americans to the point where he claimed they have a “psychological deficiency.””I wouldn’t want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I’d want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported Hatch saying in 1977.Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Bob Dole (R-Kan.) in 1994.AP Photo/John DurickaDecades later, he changed his tune. In 2018, Hatch delivered in impassioned floor speech in defense of LGBT Americans.”LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support,” he said during 2018’s Pride Month. “They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them.””These young people need us — and we desperately need them,” he added. “We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty, brilliance they bring to the world.”A hawk during the Clinton impeachment proceedings in 1999, Hatch took a more lax approach to the flurry of criminal prosecutions of Trump associates at the end of his career.”No, because I don’t think he was involved in crimes but even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws,” Hatch told CNN when asked if he was concerned that so many of Trump’s close allies were facing legal battles and investigations, some of which the president has been implicated in. “If you want to you can blow it way out of proportion you can do a lot of things.””Since he’s become president this economy has charged ahead,” he added. “And I think we ought to judge him on that basis other than trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true.”In both the ways he changed and ways he held firm during his life, Hatch’s legacy will be felt in many areas of society, through legislation he personally navigated through the Senate, his lasting impact on the institution as a whole, and his long career as one of the most prominent Mormon politicians in US history.”When we heed our better angels — when we hearken to the voices of virtue native to our very nature — we can transcend our tribal instincts and preserve our democracy for future generations,” Hatch said in his final speech on the Senate floor. “That we may do so is my humble prayer.”


Source: www.businessinsider.com