Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday paid tribute to the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, celebrating the Utah icon as a principled conservative, committed public servant and man of faith.
Two weeks after Hatch died of complications resulting from a stroke at the age of 88, McConnell attended a seven-term ceremony with Hatch’s family, friends, former colleagues and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Inducted to remember US Senator. A chapel at the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake City.
“Each legislation prepared by Orin was like a handwritten note. Every bill was an Orin Hatch ‘thank you’ to our nation who wanted to give back from a caring patriot,” McConnell said.
McConnell and others hailed Hatch’s legislative achievements, including attending confirmation hearings from dozens of federal judges and helping then-President Donald Trump take a $1.5 trillion tax cut. He also recognized his frugality and his sense of humor, growing up in Depression-era Pennsylvania.
Scott Anderson, president of the Hatch Foundation, said, “He was a bridge-builder, a collaborator, a sports enthusiast, a songwriter, a man of God and a cherished friend.”
The senator’s son, Brent Hatch, quoted a veteran Utah journalist who called Hatch “the most important Utah politician since Brigham Young”.
Young led Latter-day Saint pioneers in Utah and served as its first field-era governor.
Hatch’s children remember their father for their sense of humor, passion for storytelling, and love of reasonably priced food, which included beef hot dogs at Costco and the buffet at Utah restaurant chain Chuck-A-Rama.
“He was really larger than life,” said his daughter, Marcia Hatch Vetten. “Dad had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh.”
First elected in 1976, Hatch ended his seven-term tenure in the US Senate in 2019 as the chamber’s longest-serving Republican senator in history. He spent 32 of his 42 years in office as a top-ranking Republican on key committees and helped reshape the federal judiciary — including the U.S. Supreme Court — and the Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. With the Americans including the Compromise passed the law.
A staunch conservative, Hatch supported low taxes and opposed abortion. Early in his career, he frequently participated in settlements with Democrats, particularly with his friend the late Massachusetts Sen. Ed Kennedy, and supported Democratic presidential options for the Supreme Court, including the late President Bill Clinton. Justice Ruth Bader was nominated. Ginsburg in 1993.
Gordon Smith, a former two-term Republican senator from Oregon, called Hatch a patron and noted his knack for making noise and eventually cutting through it to get legislation passed.
“Sure, Orin made his share of noise. But Orin also had the humility and wisdom of being a student of the Senate. It inspired him to listen and learn,” said Smith. Ki mastered the art of finding common sense centers in the Senate that are essential to making laws, not just noise.”
Friday’s memorial service also highlighted specific extracurricular activities Hatch is known for in Washington, D.C., and Utah. An accomplished songwriter, Hatch wrote over 300 tracks, including Jesus’ love is like a riverAnd no empty chair, which was sung at the service by his grandchildren. He also managed a folk-rock band called The Free Agency, a psychedelic rock group in San Francisco before the members converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Growing up as a boxer, he maintained a lifelong passion for the sport, developing friendships with Utah Jazz basketball star Karl Malone and boxer Muhammad Ali, at whose funeral he spoke in 2016.