The statement begins, “Jill and I and the entire Biden family are saddened to learn of the passing of Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senator in Utah’s history, and the longest-serving Republican Senator in our nation’s history.”
The president continues, saying that Hatch once shared in an interview that he had a “soft side” as well as a “tough side.” He says that, to serve with Orrin, as he did over three decades, enabled him to see and appreciate both of these sides.
“He was the fighter who carried with him the memory of his humble upbringing near Pittsburgh, who never humored a bully, or shied from a challenge,” the president states.
Hatch received his degree from Brigham Young University, and was the first in his family to graduate college.
He was a young lawyer who built a successful law practice, Biden says, and he was “the Senator who sprinted from meeting to meeting because there was so much to do.”
Indeed, when Sen. Hatch retired, he had sponsored and co-sponsored more legislation than any Senator at the time.
The president states, “I saw that energetic, sharp-elbowed Orrin in the many battles we had over tax policy, the right of workers to join a union, and many others.”
Biden continues to say that Hatch was also a man of deep faith, calling him a “gentle soul” who wrote songs and poems, sharing them with friends, colleagues, and the world.
The president says, “This was the Orrin who looked out for the people who often didn’t have a voice in our laws and our country.” He adds that he saw this in Hatch’s efforts to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“When I first launched the Cancer Moonshot as Vice President, one of the first visits I made was to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, at Orrin’s request.” The president says, “We both saw speeding the pace of cancer research as an issue that transcended political divisions.”
Biden continues to say that when he cast his 10,000th vote in the Senate, Orrin came to the Senate floor, and that they had a chance to speak together.
The president says that the greatest perk one has as a Senator is access to people with serious minds, a serious sense of purpose, and who cared about something.
“That was Orrin,” he says. “He was, quite simply, an American original.”
The president ends his letter by saying, “Jill and I send our deepest sympathies to Elaine, and all of the Hatch children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”