Former Utah GOP senator Orrin Hatch dies at 88

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who played a central role in tax, civil rights and health care legislation for more than four decades, died Saturday, his foundation announced. He was 88 years old.

Mr Hatch served from 1977 to 2019 and was the longest serving senator in Utah history.

Mr Hatch announced his retirement in 2018, shortly after pushing Congress through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that then-President Donald Trump signed into law.

Mr. Hatch had also worked on a bipartisan basis with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, to co-write the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which expanded health coverage for poor children. He worked with senators from both parties to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act, which he later called a major career achievement.

During his last term, Mr. Hatch served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax, trade and health policy. His biggest achievement during this period was the 2017 tax bill, and befitting an increasingly partisan era in Congress, it lacked the bipartisan flavor of some of his earlier legislation.

While House Republicans spent much of early 2017 publicly debating their own plans, Hatch and his team more quietly pieced together the essentials of what became the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December. . Among its priorities: the reduction of marginal tax rates, the overhaul of international taxation and the repeal of the tax on individual mandates for non-subscription to health insurance.

Mr. Hatch has delegated key roles to more junior lawmakers, who have ironed out the details. And together they forged the Intra-Republican Compromise that passed the Senate.

Mr. Hatch was an accomplished songwriter and composer, writing over 300 songs, including one performed at the inauguration of George W. Bush. One of the last pieces of legislation he pushed for was a bill to revise laws relating to how songwriters are paid when their songs are licensed or played. The law would also allow artists to receive royalties for songs recorded before 1972.

His foundation said he died Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City surrounded by his family.

According to his foundation, he spent 32 of his 42 years in Congress as chairman or first Republican on a committee.

He was married to his wife Elaine for over 60 years. They had six children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Write to Eliza Collins at eliza.collins+1@wsj.com. and Richard Rubin at richard.rubin@wsj.com

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