Biden, Cox, Congress members and others react to death of Orrin Hatch

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hearings 1993
Posted at 10:19 PM, Apr 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 00:19:00-04

From Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C., and from left-wing to right-wing, political figures are mourning the loss of former Senator Orrin Hatch.

Hatch passed away Saturday surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old. No specific cause of death was given.

Serving in the Senate from 1977 to 2019, his 42-year tenure made him the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history and the longest of any U.S. senator from Utah.

Reactions from political figures poured in following the announcement of Hatch's passing, with many sharing fond memories of the former lawmaker, what they admired about him, and condolences to his family.

President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate with Hatch for dozens of years but from opposite political parties, issued a lengthy statement Sunday:

"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.
"Orrin Hatch once shared in an interview that he had a soft side, and he had a tough side. To serve with Orrin, as I did for over three decades, was to see—and appreciate—both.
"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 young man who, upon receiving his degree from Brigham Young University, was the first in his family to graduate college; the young lawyer who built a successful law practice; and the Senator who sprinted from meeting to meeting because there was so much to do—indeed, when Senator Hatch retired, he had sponsored or co-sponsored more legislation than any Senator at the time.
"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.
"At the same time, Senator Hatch was also a man of deep faith; a gentle soul who wrote songs and poems, and shared them with friends, colleagues, and the world. This was the Orrin who looked out for the people who often didn’t have a voice in our laws and our country. I saw this in his 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. We both saw speeding the pace of cancer research as an issue that transcended political divisions.
"When I cast my 10,000th vote in the Senate, Orrin came to the Senate floor and we had a chance to speak. I said that the greatest perk one has as a Senator was access to people with serious minds, a serious sense of purpose, and who cared about something. That was Orrin.
"He was, quite simply, an American original.
"Jill and I send our deepest sympathies to Elaine, and all of the Hatch children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also responded to the passing of Hatch, who was a member of the church:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joins with all those who are mourning the passing of Orrin G. Hatch. Throughout his life, Senator Hatch served with distinction, particularly during the 42 years he represented the state of Utah in the United States Senate. Senator Hatch’s tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefitted countless lives, and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come. His service in callings he accepted in the Church reflected his commitment to serve his fellow man. Senator Hatch leaves a commendable legacy to his family and to his nation. We express our love to Elaine and to their children and grandchildren and pray the Lord’s blessings will be upon them."

Dozens of elected officials from Utah — both current and former — issued statements in response to Hatch's death on Saturday:

Video: Gary Herbert responds to passing of Orrin Hatch

Former Utah governor on death of Orrin Hatch

"We appreciate his service to the state and his continued contribution. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
—Carson Jorgensen, Utah Republican Party chairman

"Having run against Orrin Hatch twice for the U.S. Senate, I Always appreciated the candor and respect we had for each other. Orrin was a tough competitor and a very talented politician. My deepest condolences to his wonderful wife Elaine and family at this very tender time. Rest In Peace Senator."
—Scott Howell, a Democrat who challenged Hatch in the 2012 election

“Senator Orrin G. Hatch personified the American Dream. Born the son of a carpenter and plaster lather, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States Senator. With the hardships of his upbringing always fresh in his mind, he made it his life’s mission to expand freedom and opportunity for others—and the results speak for themselves. From tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, few legislators have had a greater impact on American life than Orrin Hatch. He was a profoundly positive influence in the lives of those he served, whether they were the constituents he helped over four decades of casework, the hundreds of interns he sponsored in both Utah and DC, or the robust network of Hatch staffers who carry on his legacy to this day. Senator Hatch touched the hearts of countless individuals, and I know I speak for all of them when I say he will be dearly missed.”
—Matt Sandgren, Hatch Foundation executive director

“A man of wisdom, kindness, character, and compassion, Orrin G. Hatch was everything a United States Senator should be. He exemplified a generation of lawmakers brought up on the principles of comity and compromise, and he embodied those principles better than anyone. In a nation divided, Orrin Hatch helped show us a better way by forging meaningful friendships on both sides of the aisle. Today, more than ever, we would do well to follow his example. May we honor Orrin’s memory by living as he lived—committed to our country, to our principles, and to each other.”
—A. Scott Anderson, Hatch Foundation chairman