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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R)

Utah

Leadership: President Pro Tempore

N/A

hatch.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 1976, term expires 2018, 7th term.

Born: March 22, 1934, Homestead Park, PA (Pittsburgh)

Home: Salt Lake City, UT

Education: Brigham Young U., B.S. 1959; U. of Pittsburgh, J.D. 1962

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1962–76.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Mormon

Family: Married (Elaine Hansen) , 6 children ; 23 grandchildren ; 10 great-grandchildren

Republican Orrin Hatch, Utah’s senior senator, was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and is now president pro tem as his party's longest-serving member in the chamber. Like few others in Congress, he has been consistent in his inconsistency—he veers between collaborating enthusiastically with Democrats and attacking them with vigor. He tacked rightward in the face of a 2012 tea party challenge, but displayed greater bipartisanship after winning a primary to ensure reelection to what he said would be his final term. He took the coveted helm of the Finance Committee in 2015.

Hatch grew up in Pittsburgh, where his father was a metal lather. The family lost their home during the Depression, and lived for a time in a shelter made of salvaged wood and metal and without plumbing. He worked his way through Brigham Young University as a janitor and a metal lather, like his father. He went on to get a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and practiced law there. He and his wife and their young family moved to Salt Lake City, and the newly minted lawyer got interested in politics. In 1976, he ran for the U.S. Senate. An endorsement from Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan helped him get attention and he ultimately won the GOP nomination. In the general election, he upset three-term Democrat Frank Moss 54%-45%. His toughest reelection fight came in 1982, when he was opposed by Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson. Hatch won 58%-41%.

Hatch is second overall in seniority to Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. His ascension to the pro-tem position (technically third in line in presidential succession) earned him a $19,400 raise as well as a security detail. His Senate career has been shaped by two impulses that are sometimes at odds with each other: a strong conservative philosophy and a sense of responsibility to pass meaningful legislation. As the new Finance chairman, he said one of his top priorities was the repeal of a tax on medical devices in the Affordable Care Act that has proven unpopular with members of both parties. He also planned to be active on trade, another area with potential for reaching across the aisle. He saidtrade negotiations must preserve strong intellectual property rights protections, including privacy and cyber theft; maintain strong investor-state dispute-settlement provisions; eliminate trade distortions and unfair competition by state-owned enterprises; and significantly reduce tariffs on exports.

But Hatch's major focus was reforming the tax code, which he said in a speech was "essential if we're going to get our economy moving again." He said any reform should promote competitiveness as well as help spur savings and investment but not, of course, raise taxes. In a swipe at President Barack Obama's call to raise taxes on the wealthy, he said that any attempt to use reform as a way to raise taxes on businesses or individuals was “a needless distraction.”

When Obama took office in 2009, Hatch expressed a willingness to work with his longtime friend, the ailing liberal Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy, on comprehensive health care legislation. But even before Kennedy’s death in August of that year, Hatch was assailing the measure as big-government overreach. In January 2011, he became the ranking Republican on Finance and took the lead on his party’s efforts to repeal the law, sponsoring bills to end the individual mandate and the employer mandate for coverage.

In March, he was one of just nine senators to oppose a fiscal 2011 budget deal that staved off a government shutdown, arguing that it did not cut spending enough. He also called on the Treasury Department to delay implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul law. He opposed the nomination of Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, whom he had voted to confirm as solicitor general. His embrace of conservative positions was an acknowledgment that he was heeding the message Utah Republicans sent in 2010, when they dumped three-term Sen. Robert Bennett at their state party nominating convention after he was perceived to be insufficiently conservative on issues. The move paved the way for conservative Republican Mike Lee to win Bennett’s seat that fall. With an eye toward the 2012 state party convention, Hatch told a conference of conservatives in Washington in February 2011, “I’m prepared to be the most hated man in this Godforsaken city in order to save this country.”

Hatch may not have been the most hated, but for much of the rest of the 112th Congress (2011-12), he remained among the most conservative. He cosponsored legislation forcing government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both tea party targets, into gradual privatization. At a Finance hearing on oil prices, he made his feelings clear about the event’s importance by unveiling a portrait of a dog sitting on a pony. Hatch scoffed at the idea that he was operating any differently. “The fact of the matter is, I’ve been a tea party person, I think, since before the tea party came into existence,” he told Fox News in August. But his rating from the anti-tax Club for Growth—which had been 75% during his career through 2010—jumped to 99% in 2011. In addition, his rhetoric had a noticeably sharper bite. He told Fox News that Obama was a “scaredy cat hiding in some closet in the White House” for not moving faster on the Keystone XL pipeline, designed to bring Canadian oil to U.S. refineries.

Throughout this time, Hatch energetically courted tea party support. But by early 2012, FreedomWorks, one of the largest of the movement’s groups, had raised more than $615,000 to try to oust him. Hatch responded by calling FreedomWorks “the sleaziest bunch I’ve ever seen in my life.” But the group’s favored challenger, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, declined to take on Hatch. At the April 2012 convention, Hatch fell just short—with 59.19% of the vote during the second round of balloting—to attain the 60% threshold to avoid a primary in June. His primary opponent became Dan Liljenquist, a former state senator who accused Hatch of “fiscal child abuse” for repeatedly voting to raise the nation’s debt limit. But Liljenquist lacked Chaffetz’s star quality with the tea party faithful, and Hatch sailed to a 66%-34% victory, winning every county and racking up a 2-to-1 margin in populous Salt Lake County. That sealed his status in the general election; he beat Democrat Scott Howell 65%-30%, with three minor-party candidates splitting the remainder.

After the primary, Hatch showed signs of his former aisle-crossing self. He worked with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., on a bill containing tax breaks for a range of businesses and industries. Five of the committee’s 11 Republicans voted against the measure. He was the only member of Utah’s delegation to support the tax and spending compromise aimed at avoiding a so-called “fiscal cliff” in early 2013. And he joined a bipartisan group of senators in January 2013 on a bill to nearly double the number of visas available to highly skilled foreign workers. His Club for Growth score for 2013 dipped to 76%, or roughly in the middle of the pack in the Senate.

In October 2013, he was secure enough politically to warn on MSNBC that the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank was "in danger of losing its clout and its power" because it had lurched so far rightward. And seven month later, he told a Salt Lake City radio station that same-sex marriage inevitably would become legal someday and that opponents weren't living in the real world. At the same time, to counter Democrats' criticism that the GOP had no alternative to the Affordable Care Act, in 2014 he unveiled a proposal with North Carolina's Richard Burr and Oklahoma's Tom Coburn. It retained many of the most popular elements of the law but repealed the mandate that Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty. It also would only guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions iif they maintained “continuous coverage.” The idea drew widespread attention but failed to gain much political traction.

Well before his primary battle, Hatch regularly had taken similar surprising and bipartisan positions. In 1997, he joined Kennedy in sponsoring a $24 billion program to get states to provide health insurance for children of low-income working parents who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Hatch, however, voted against reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2009, saying Democrats improperly modified it. In 2004, he gained wide bipartisan support for setting up a trust fund to handle asbestos cases, and two years later, the Senate passed a measure Hatch sponsored with Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin that toughened federal regulation of dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs. Hatch has expressed doubts about the use of mandatory minimum sentences in some drug cases. And with then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., he got a provision in a tax bill to bar bankruptcy courts from preventing the carrying out of charitable and tithing pledges. The title of his 2002 autobiography summed up his idiosyncratic political style; it’s called Square Peg.

Yet Hatch has also defended traditional Republican positions to the hilt, sponsoring bills to restrict class action lawsuits and to set limits on medical malpractice cases. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee from June 2001 to January 2003 and as the ranking minority member, Hatch defended the Bush Justice Department and judicial nominees against Democrats’ attacks, and took them to task for refusing to hold hearings on many appointees. After same-sex couples in Massachusetts started obtaining marriage licenses, Hatch supported the amendment sponsored by Colorado Republican Wayne Allard that would ban same-sex marriage altogether. Hatch has opposed federal gun control measures and in 2003 sponsored a bill to make it easier to carry handguns in the District of Columbia.

Another of Hatch’s preoccupations is the issue of protecting intellectual property in the face of technological advance. He supported the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 banning unlawful downloading of copyrighted music and movies and backed the record industry against the threat raised by Napster. In 2004, the Senate passed his bill, co-sponsored with Leahy, to authorize the Justice Department to bring civil lawsuits as well as criminal actions for illegal downloading.

Hatch’s interest in these issues is not just theoretical. He has long written poetry and he has written hundreds of songs, some of which have been recorded by a Utah firm, including a 13-song album of Christmas music. Some of his songs have been recorded by singer Gladys Knight, a convert to the Mormon Church. His music has earned praise from Bono, the lead singer of the popular and politically-oriented rock band U2. In 2003, the two men met to discuss the AIDS crisis in Africa, and the singer suggested for Hatch the stage name “Johnny Trapdoor.” One of his songs, “Souls Along the Way,” was written for his friend Kennedy and was used in the movie Ocean’s 12. In 2009, he even wrote a Jewish holiday tune called “Eight Days of Hannukah.”

On the Judiciary Committee, he has fought abortion rights legislation and a civil rights bill that produced racial quotas and preferences. In earlier major battles over Supreme Court nominees, Hatch staunchly defended conservatives Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. In 1995, when Hatch became chairman of the committee, he worked on limiting tort liability and regulatory law and managed the balanced budget amendment proposal to one-vote defeats in 1995 and 1997. He also helped draft the 2001 USA Patriot Act, the Bush administration’s centerpiece anti-terrorism law, and in 2004 defended it against attempts to eliminate some of its main provisions. During negotiations to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Hatch supported a provision to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies that had participated in the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Hatch described the phone companies as “patriotic” in a speech on the Senate floor. The FISA reauthorization passed the Senate in 2008 with retroactive immunity for the companies.

Every senator, it sometimes seems, feels compelled to run for president, and the time came for Hatch with the 2000 election. He argued that he had more experience in federal office than the other candidates and that he was not “beholden to the Republican establishment.” In the Iowa caucuses in January 2000, he won only 1% of the vote, fewer than Republican John McCain, who did not campaign in the state. Two days later, he withdrew from the race and endorsed George W. Bush. In the 2008 presidential primaries, Hatch endorsed fellow Mormon Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. But after Romney dropped out, Hatch endorsed his colleague McCain and wrote a patriotic campaign song for him called “Together Forever.”

In 2000, Hatch won 66%-31% and became the first Utahan popularly elected five times to the Senate. The only other five-term senator in Utah history, Reed Smoot, who served from 1903 to 1933, was elected to his first term by the legislature. In 2006, he won 63%-31% and became the longest-serving senator in Utah history.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 104
Washington, DC 20510-4402

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 104
Washington, DC 20510-4402

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

Federal Building Room 8402
Salt Lake City, UT 84138-1191

DISTRICT OFFICE

(801) 524-4380

(801) 524-4379

Federal Building Room 8402
Salt Lake City, UT 84138-1191

DISTRICT OFFICE

(801) 375-7881

(801) 374-5005

51 South University Avenue Suite 320
Provo, UT 84601-4491

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

51 South University Avenue Suite 320
Provo, UT 84601-4491

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

77 North Main Street Suite 112
Cedar City, UT 84720

DISTRICT OFFICE

(435) 586-8435

(435) 586-2147

77 North Main Street Suite 112
Cedar City, UT 84720

DISTRICT OFFICE

(801) 625-5672

(801) 394-4503

Federal Building Room 1006
Ogden, UT 84401-2341

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

Federal Building Room 1006
Ogden, UT 84401-2341

DISTRICT OFFICE

(435) 634-1795

(435) 634-1796

Federal Building Suite 14
St George, UT 84770-3443

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-5251

(202) 224-6331

Federal Building Room 14
St George, UT 84770-3443

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Katie Neal
Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Matt Jensen
Legislative Assistant

Rachel Munyan
Legislative Correspondent

Agriculture

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Romel Nicholas
Legislative Correspondent

Animal Rights

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Appropriations

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Arts

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Katie Neal
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Trevor Sperry
Legislative Correspondent

James Williams
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Commerce

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Communication

Crime

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Disability

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Economics

James Williams
Legislative Assistant

Education

Lonald Wishom
Legislative Correspondent

Katie Neal
Legislative Assistant

Energy

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Romel Nicholas
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Romel Nicholas
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Katie Neal
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Grants

Lonald Wishom
Legislative Correspondent

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Health

Stuart Portman
Legislative Correspondent

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Karen LaMontagne
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Homeland Security

Doug Dynes
Military Legislative Assistant

Housing

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Sean Firth
Constituent Services Specialist

Intelligence

Internet

Judiciary

Dane Karvois
Judiciary Detailee

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Kristin McLintock
Legislative Correspondent

Labor

Lonald Wishom
Legislative Correspondent

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Medicare

Stuart Portman
Legislative Correspondent

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Military

R. Zenock Bishop
Constituent Services Specialist

Doug Dynes
Military Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Privacy

Tom Jipping
Judiciary Counsel

Science

Seniors

Matthew Richardson
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Dianne Browning
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Trevor Sperry
Legislative Correspondent

James Williams
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Telecommunications

Transportation

John Tanner
Legislative Director

Edward Cox
Legislative Assistant

ed_cox@hatch.senate.gov
(202) 224-5251

Matt Jensen
Legislative Assistant

Rachel Munyan
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Matt Jensen
Legislative Assistant

R. Zenock Bishop
Constituent Services Specialist

Doug Dynes
Military Legislative Assistant

Rachel Munyan
Legislative Correspondent

** denotes a leadership staffer

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Orrin Hatch
Votes: 657,608
Percent: 65.31%
Scott Howell
Votes: 301,873
Percent: 29.98%
2012 PRIMARY
Orrin Hatch
Votes: 160,359
Percent: 66.46%
Dan Liljenquist
Votes: 80,915
Percent: 33.54%
2006 GENERAL
Orrin Hatch
Votes: 356,238
Percent: 63.0%
Pete Ashdown
Votes: 177,459
Percent: 31.0%
2006 PRIMARY
Orrin Hatch
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2006 (63%), 2000 (66%), 1994 (69%), 1988 (67%), 1982 (58%), 1976 (54%)

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