U.S. longest-serving Republican senator to retire

Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 20 2017. Hatch says he is retiring after four decades in Senate (Alex Brandon  AP

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah announced today he will retire at the end of his term.

In his retirement announcement, Hatch dwelled on his long record, which includes popular, bipartisan initiatives like the Childrens Health Insurance Program and the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as more partisan achievements, like his prominent role in the confirmation of Supreme Court justices and his authorship of last months tax law, which passed without a Democratic vote. Three-quarters of Utahans said it was time for someone else to serve in the Senate, according to a poll late previous year by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah. "I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington", said Hatch.

"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves", said 83-year-old Mr Hatch. "I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President", he added.

In a statement, Hatch said he chose to retire at the end of his seventh term after "much prayer and discussion with family and friends" over the holiday break. The dispute occurred as Republicans pushed a near $1.5 trillion, 10-year tax cut for businesses and individuals through the Senate Finance Committee over Democrats' objections.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday that Trump is "very sad" that Hatch is leaving, particularly given his efforts on tax reform.

Republicans with a close eye on the race said they expect Romney to run for Hatch's seat, and have seen signs that his allies have always been gearing up for a bid.

One of the first names offered was none other than former Republican Mitt Romney former GOP candidate for president. Romney would likely be among a small number of influential Republicans willing to take on Trump.

Bloomberg News reported in October that Bannon was planning to play in nearly every Republican Senate primary contest, anyway, but a couple of the Breitbart News chief's would-be targets - Sen.

Shortly after Hatch's announcement, Romney posted a statement on his Facebook page congratulating Hatch for his more than 40 years of service in the Senate.

"Senator Hatch has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honor", Romney wrote.

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump responded to veteran Utah Sen.

As the president prodded Mr. Hatch to stay, voices in his home state were urging him to go.

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