WASHINGTON (ABC4 Utah)- Senator Orrin Hatch has spent more than four decades in the United States Senate.
“I’ve enjoyed working in Congress, both sides. Democrats and Republicans. House and Senate. It’s been a real privilege for me,” Senator Orrin Hatch said.
Since January 2015, he has been third in line to the Presidency as the President pro tempore of the Senate. With that, and his 41 years of experience, comes a seasoned approach to governance.
“Though I’m a really strong conservative, I’ve recognized that other people have ideas too,” Hatch said.
Senator Hatch identifies bipartisanship as an essential part of getting things done, and the absence of it led to the health care deadlock.
“Health care as far as I’m concerned, that’s had its day. The problem is the Democrats were really jolted by the fact that Trump won, and so they’ve basically tried to stop every bit of legislation they possibly can,” Hatch said.
The Senator says tax reform is the focus now and that reaching across the aisle, as he did with Democrats like Ted Kennedy, is how to get results.
“When I came here I came to fight Ted Kennedy, and fight him I did,” he said. “We got in some awful fights on the floor and he would be yelling and screaming. Oddly enough, when the debate was over he’d come over and say, ‘how’d I do?’ How do you get mad at a guy like that? He was a leading liberal and I got him to move to the middle much more than anyone else could do,” he said.
Senator Hatch has passed almost 800 bills. His executive assistant credits his hustle.
“He’s a workhorse. I don’t want his hours. He’s here long before I’m out of bed. Then he often leaves late and works weekends. Then he goes out to Utah and he works that whole period of time. When I might have a break, he doesn’t seem to get one,” Ruth Montoya said.
Montoya has worked for Senator Hatch for almost 31 years and runs his schedule.
“He knows that I understand his frustrations and his annoyance because I’m annoying! I’m always telling him what to do!” Montoya said.
Beyond a busy schedule filled with constant travel, meetings and various commitments, Senator Hatch said there’s something he always places ahead of everything else.
“The one thing I always make sure is that Utah is treated fairly. Have we won every battle? No. But we’ve won most of them and frankly I hope our folks in Utah realize that,” Hatch said.
Senator Hatch’s seniority has placed him on some of the Senate’s most powerful committees including the Committee on Finance, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
He said that leaving these committee positions would make him “feel like a slacker.” That’s why at age 83, he intends to run for reelection in 2018.