Updated Apr 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch dies at age 88

 U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) talks to members of the media March 16, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Then-U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch talks to members of the media March 16, 2016 on Capitol Hill. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the former president Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate, has died, his foundation announced Saturday. He was 88.

The big picture: Hatch served from 1977 to 2019, making him Utah's longest-serving U.S. senator. He died surrounded by family in Salt Lake City, Utah, at 5:30 p.m., the Hatch Foundation said in a statement.

Our thought bubble, via Axios co-founder Mike Allen: Hatch, a Western conservative who wasn't afraid to work across party lines, counted the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) as one of his closest friends in the Senate. In 1997, they teamed up to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). 

What they're saying: Hatch Foundation executive director Matt Sandgren said in a statement that the late senator "personified the American Dream."

  • "Born the son of a carpenter and plaster lather, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States Senator," Sandgren said.
  • "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. From tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, few legislators have had a greater impact on American life than Orrin Hatch."

"Orrin Hatch once shared in an interview that he had a soft side, and he had a tough side. To serve with Orrin, as I did for over three decades, was to see—and appreciate—both," wrote President Biden in a statement Sunday.

"He was the fighter who carried with him the memory of his humble upbringing near Pittsburgh, who never humored a bully, or shied from a challenge. The young man who, upon receiving his degree from Brigham Young University, was the first in his family to graduate college; the young lawyer who built a successful law practice; and the Senator who sprinted from meeting to meeting because there was so much to do—indeed, when Senator Hatch retired, he had sponsored or co-sponsored more legislation than any Senator at the time."
— President Biden

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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