SALT LAKE CITY (AP)

Arin G. Hatch, the Republican senator with the longest tenure in history and consecutive Utah politics for more than four decades, has died at the age of 88.

On Saturday, the death of the retired senator was announced in a statement by his foundation, which did not specify the cause.

An avid conservative on most economic and social issues, he has also collaborated with Democrats several times throughout his long career on issues ranging from stem cell research to the rights of people with disabilities to expanding children’s health insurance. He made friends all over the aisle, especially with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

President Joe Biden, who has worked with Hatch in the Senate for more than three decades, on Sunday described the Republican MP as a fighter for matters he believed in, but with a softer side, including writing songs and poems he shared with friends.

“Serving with Orin, as I have done for more than three decades, has meant seeing – and appreciating – both,” Biden said in a statement. join a union and many others ”.

Hatch defended Republican issues such as restrictions on abortion, and helped form the U.S. Supreme Court, including defending Judge Clarence Thomas from allegations of sexual harassment 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 serious rewriting of U.S. tax codes on the president’s desk. In turn, Trump has helped Hatch solve a key issue for Republicans in Utah by taking a controversial step toward drastically reducing the two national monuments erected by past presidents.

Hatch retired in 2019. Trump encouraged him to run again, but the longtime senator would face tough primaries and vowed to resign. The hatch prompted Republican Mitt Romney, a critic of Trump, to run for his place.

“Several people have been as influential in the Senate as he is,” Romney wrote in honor of his friend and predecessor, praising his “vision and legislative achievements.”

Former Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa made a statement in which he recalled Hatch’s help in securing conservative support for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Hatch later considered one of his most important achievements.

“Orin has always been a sympathetic conservative and is ready to work with liberals before the Trump administration comes to find common ground and compromises,” Harkin said.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee called Hatch “a friend, a teacher, and an example to me and many others.”

Hatch was known for his side career as a singer and sound engineer 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.

Hatch was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 and served seven terms to become the longest-serving senator in Utah history. He became interim president of the Senate in 2015 when Republicans took control of the Senate. This position made him the third in line of presidential succession after then-Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives. His tenure makes him the longest senator from the Republican Party after several Democrats.

One of the problems Hatch returned to during his career was restricting or banning abortion, a position that put him at the center of one of the most contentious issues in the country. He was the author of a number of proposed “Hatch amendments” to the Constitution aimed at reducing the availability of abortion.

In 1991, he became known as one of Thomas ’most vocal defenders against accusations by law professor Anita Hill of sexual harassment. Hatch read aloud at the confirmation hearing from the Exorcist, and he suggested that Hill had stolen details from the book.

Although arguably conservative, Hatch was sometimes different from his conservative counterparts, including then-President George W. Bush, when Hatch sought federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

In 1997, Hatch joined Kennedy in sponsoring a $ 24 billion program for states to provide health insurance to children of low-income parents who are not eligible for Medicaid.

“He has set an example for a generation of lawmakers brought up on the principles of benevolence and compromise, and he has embodied those principles best of all,” said Hatch Foundation Chairman A. Scott Anderson in a statement. “In a divided nation, Arin Hatch helped show us the best way.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, praised Hatch’s legislative acumen.

“Orin’s decades of leadership have served as an endless catalog of key legislative achievements and landmarks,” 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 followed his principles all his career. “

Hatch also helped pass a law that tightens laws against child pornography and illegal music downloads.

The problem of downloading music was personal. A member of a faith widely known as the Mormons, he often wrote religious songs and recorded music in his spare time to relax from the stress of living in Washington. In 2005, Hatch earned about $ 39,000 in royalties from his songs.

One song, “Unspoken,” went platinum after appearing on “WOW Hits 2005,” a collection of Christian pop music.

In 2000, Hatch sought Republican nominations, saying he had more experience in Washington than his opponents and could work with Democrats. Hatch admitted that the victory would be very big, and withdrew from the race, receiving only 1% of the vote at the meeting in Iowa. He supported George W. Bush.

He became a staunch opponent of President Barack Obama’s 2009 health care law after withdrawing from early bipartisan legislative talks. At one point he said about the legislation: “It’s 2074 pages. That’s enough to make you thump. “

In 2012, Hatch faced a difficult re-election of the Conservative candidate, two years after a wave of tea parties stripped longtime Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett of his post. Both Bennett and Hatch voted to help the banks in 2008, annoying the far right.

Hatch invested about $ 10 million in his race in 2012 and worked to secure support for the Conservative Tea Party.

Hatch used to play hard – he learned to box as a child in Pittsburgh to repel the attacks of older, older students. Not afraid to fight, he said he always strives to quickly make friends with those with whom he argued.

When Hatch announced he would not seek re-election in 2018, he said “every good fighter knows when to hang gloves”.

After moving to Utah in the early 1970s, Hatch, a former bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ran for his first public office in 1976 and upset Democratic Sen. Frank Moss.

In 1982, he kept contender Ted Wilson, mayor of the Salt Lake City Democratic Party, to win a second term by a wide margin.

He was never seriously summoned again.

Arin Grant Hatch was born in 1934 in Pittsburgh to a family of carpenter and gypsum soap. He married Elaine Hanson in 1957 and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1959. He received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1962 and was a partner of the law firm Thomson, Rhodes and Grigsby in that city until 1969. He later partnered with Hatch & Plumb in Salt Lake City.

His six children are Brent, Marcia, Scott, Kimberly, Alice and Jess.

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