WASHINGTON—Former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who played a pivotal role in major tax, civil rights and health care laws for more than four decades, died Saturday, his foundation said. He was 88 years old.
Mr. Hatch served from 1977 to 2019 and was the longest-serving senator in Utah history.
Hatch had announced his retirement in 2018, shortly after Congress passed 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 one of the major accomplishments of his career.
During his final term, Mr. Hatch was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over tax, trade and health policy. His biggest accomplishment during that period was the 2017 tax bill, and in keeping with an increasingly partisan era in Congress, it didn’t have the bipartisan flavor of some of his earlier bills.
While House Republicans spent much of early 2017 publicly debating their own plans, Hatch and his team more quietly put together the centerpieces of what became the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December. Among his priorities: lower marginal tax rates, modernize the international tax system and repeal the individual mandate tax for not buying health insurance.
Hatch delegated key roles to younger lawmakers, who hammered out the details. And together they forged the intra-Republican compromise that was approved by the Senate.
Mr. Hatch was an accomplished singer-songwriter and composer, writing more than 300 songs, including one performed at the inauguration of George W. Bush. One of the last pieces of legislation he pushed through was a bill to review laws related 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 passed away 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 as the top Republican on a committee.
He was married to his wife Elaine for more than 60 years. They had six children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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