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US: Long-serving Utah senator, Orrin Hatch, dies at 88

ORRIN G. Hatch, who became the longest-serving Republican senator in history as he represented Utah 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. He launched the Hatch Foundation as he retired in 2019 and was replaced by Mitt Romney.

A conservative on most economic and social issues, he 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 Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

“He exemplified a generation of lawmakers brought up on the principles of comity and compromise, and he embodied those principles better than anyone,” said Hatch Foundation Chairman A. Scott Anderson in a statement. “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.”

Hatch also championed GOP issues such as abortion limits and helped shape the U.S. Supreme Court, including defending Clarence Thomas against sexual harassment allegations during confirmation hearings.

Toward the end of his career, Hatch became an ally of Republican President 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 a key issue for Republicans in Utah by agreeing to drastically downsize two national monuments that had been declared by past presidents.

Though Trump encouraged Hatch to run again, the longtime senator, who would have faced a tough primary battle, had promised not to run again. Hatch instead stepped aside and encouraged Romney to run to replace him.

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.

Hatch came to the Senate after a 1976 election win and went onto become the longest-serving senator in Utah history, winning a seventh term in 2012. He became the Senate president pro tempore in 2015 when Republicans took control of the Senate. The position made him third in the line of presidential succession behind then-Vice President Joe Biden and the speaker of the House.

One issue Hatch returned to over the course of his career was limiting or outlawing abortion, a position that put him at the center of one of the nation’s most controversial issues for decades. He was the author of a variety of “Hatch amendments” to the Constitution aimed at diminishing the availability of abortions.

In 1991, he became known as one of the most vocal defenders of Thomas, a Supreme Court nominee, against sexual harassment allegations from Anita Hill. Hatch read aloud at the confirmation hearings from “The Exorcist,” and he suggested that Hill stole details from the book.

While unquestionably conservative, there were times Hatch differed from many of his conservative colleagues — including then-President George W. Bush when Hatch pushed for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

In 1997, Hatch joined Kennedy in sponsoring a $24-billion program for states to provide health insurance to the children of low-income parents who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Hatch helped usher through legislation toughening child pornography laws and making illegally downloading music a prosecutable crime.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-04-23/long-serving-utah-senator-orrin-hatch-dies-at-88

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