As this session of the Congress draws to a close it does provide us with an opportunity to acknowledge and express our appreciation to those members of the Senate who will be retiring in just a few weeks. And one senator who is retiring and whose leadership and institutional knowledge will be missed is my friend Orrin Hatch of Utah.
I have known Orrin since my first days 22 years ago in the Senate and I have very much appreciated working with him over the years. His mentoring, his guidance, his love, and his sharing of his faith have made a tremendous difference to me. He comes from a state that borders my own. We’re neighbors. As a western senator he has an understanding of what is truly important to the people in our neck of the woods and has fought to make this country better during his time in the Senate.
Before I talk about his many accomplishments in public service, I want to acknowledge some of the other things about him, that have also been mentioned, his life and role beyond the Senate. So often it is easy to gloss over the things that are important to senators personally. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the men and women we know here have lives that stretch beyond these halls. Orrin has been married to his wife Elaine for more than 60 years. He is a father of six, grandfather of 23, and currently has 24 great grandchildren. He is an author and a man of many talents. It has been mentioned that he is a talented composer and musician and has both a gold and a platinum record from the Recording Industry Association of America. He has been instrumental in the musical world and has been awarded an honorary Grammy. He has been the main protector of Copy Rights.
Orrin has dedicated his life to serving the people of Utah. He has always worked for the best interests of Utah – that includes Americans nationwide. He has served in the Senate since 1977 and since 2015 has been the President Pro Tempore where he can be seen presiding during the opening of the Senate for daily business. Probably more than any other president of the Senate. The numbers are in and they are impressive. He has served under seven presidents, been a part of both the minority and majority, and has served the people of Utah in the United States Senate for over 40 years.
Orrin has served in a variety of leadership roles and has helped America every step of the way. He has had the opportunity to serve as the chairman of three major Senate Committees - the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the Judiciary Committee and most recently the Finance Committee, while I did the tax bill. He has run for president, been considered as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court and played a role in confirming every Supreme Court Justice currently sitting on the bench. Orrin is eminently qualified for so many positions and America has been lucky to have his leadership through the years.
The people of Utah, our nation, and people of all faiths were fortunate to have him to rely on. Orrin is a man of faith, one who defends others’ right to worship in peace.
He has consistently fought to reign in the federal government, has been a champion of responsible government spending and a leader for states’ rights. He authored a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget that received 66 votes, just one short of what is needed to amend the Constitution. One of those votes was somebody who just ran for election and said that was the most important thing, and no matter how many times it up, he would be voting for it. And he voted against it and that was the one vote that was needed. Just by virtue of his legislative triumphs he has helped to author some of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our time. Many have been mentioned.
He paved the way for the sale of generic drugs and helped advance innovation for patients with rare diseases. He has contributed to the protection of children’s health and well-being, as well as the rights of Americans with disabilities. I know one of his proudest accomplishments is passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects individual Americans’ right to exercise their religion. Most recently, he had the honor of having the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act named after him which overhauled musical copyright law.
We both have a strong touch of the West in our hearts that we express every day in what we do. That is why I wasn’t surprised when last year, Orrin announced he would not be running for another term in the Senate. He said, and I quote, “I've always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth… but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. … I look forward to spending more time with family, especially my sweet wife Elaine, whose unwavering love and support made all of this possible.” Orrin has been a great source of strength and support for our party and he will be missed.
My wife Diana joins me in sending our best wishes and our appreciation to Orrin and Elaine. We wish them all the best as they have time to spend with their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Together they have been great examples of the importance of public service and we wish them the best in whatever adventure they choose to pursue next.
Orrin, it will be said that it was ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’