Vice President Nelson Rockefeller swore in Sen. Hatch as a member of the 95th Congress. He was assigned to three committees: the Judiciary Committee, the Labor and Human Resources Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee.
Hatch and fellow Utah Sen. Jake Garn worked to preserve funds for the water-reclamation Central Utah Project—funds which had been cut in President Jimmy Carter’s budget. This project was completed and continues to provide water resources for Utah families, farms, and businesses to this day. From the Central Utah Project to the Bears Ears Monument designation at the end of his Senate service, Hatch consistently fought against Washington encroachment on western lands.
This same year, Hatch introduced a joint resolution (S.J. Res. 84) proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to protect the right to life of unborn children. The proposal set the tone for the rest of his public service as a strong defender of the unborn.
Although ranked No. 100 in seniority at the time, Hatch led an ambitious—and successful—charge against the Labor Law Reform Act (S. 2467), proposed by the Democratic majority. The bill would have given labor unions a tremendous and unfair advantage, resulting in forced unionism and job loss. Hatch mobilized the longest legislative filibuster in the Senate’s history, taking the act to a record six unsuccessful cloture votes. Hatch successfully killed the bill and earned a reputation as a bold, no-nonsense legislator in the process.
Hatch established himself as a leader in the “Sagebrush Rebellion”—which fought federal infringement on state land—when he introduced the Western Lands Distribution and Regional Equalization Act (S. 1680) to provide for the transfer of federally controlled western lands to states “west of the 100th meridian.”
Hatch also introduced the Balanced Budget Amendment for the first time, beginning his decades-long fight to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. Hatch’s reputation as a statesman and his record of fiscal responsibility later earned him the nickname “Mr. Balanced Budget” from President Ronald Reagan.
Hatch strongly opposed and successfully defeated President Jimmy Carter’s plan for basing the MX missile on racetracks in Utah.
Inspired by Utah’s “greatest snow on Earth,” Hatch authored legislation to promote safety and health in skiing and other outdoor winter recreational activities. The National Ski Patrol System Recognition Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-489) was the first Hatch bill to become law.
After campaigning as the top surrogate for Ronald Reagan in the presidential race in 1980, Hatch was catapulted to the chairmanship of the Labor and Human Resources Committee when the Senate changed to Republican control on Reagan’s coattails. Hatch served as chairman for six years. Having grown up in poverty, Hatch’s philosophy was one of genuine compassion toward individuals struggling in America. He sought to help families in need not through government handouts but by creating an environment that inspired communities and individuals to take advantage of opportunities to improve their life condition.
Hatch persuaded the Reagan Administration to appoint fellow Utahn Ted Bell as Secretary of Education. Bell proposed the Excellence in Education Commission, whose report started education reform in the 1980s.
Hatch took the first steps in his campaign to defend America’s children by cosponsoring the Missing Children Act (P.L. 97-292), which helped establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This began Hatch’s partnership to protect kids with John Walsh, the host of “America’s Most Wanted,” whose son, Adam, had been murdered the year before.
As the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Hatch authored the seminal report, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” This pioneering legal analysis confirms that the Second Amendment was intended as an individual right to gun ownership more than two decades before the Supreme Court affirmed that position. The report is now credited with laying the groundwork for 20 years of judicial and legislative efforts to protect Americans’ Second Amendment Rights.
As Labor Committee chairman, Hatch proved instrumental in defeating the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, which, among other provisions, threatened to render veterans’ preference programs unconstitutional and to outlaw single-sex schools and universities.
Congress passed one of the most significant pro-consumer bills of all time, the Hatch-Waxman Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Extension Act (P.L. 98-417). Hatch-Waxman increased the availability of money-saving generic drugs, which today account for 47 percent of all prescriptions issued in the United States. To this day, the law helps foster competition and increase patent strength, provides incentives to the development of generic versions of off-patent drugs, and permits patent owners to recover time lost during FDA approval.
Hatch’s National Organ Transplant Act (P.L. 98-507) established a task force and a registry for organ procurement and transplantation, simplifying the bureaucratic process that patients must go through to obtain life-saving transplants.
As an expert on improving America’s criminal justice system, Hatch helped pass the Victims of Crimes Assistance Act, which grants victims the right to seek compensation for injury or losses from the offending criminals. He also helped pass the Bail Reform Act, which allows courts to detain offenders deemed too dangerous for release. (Both acts were included in P.L. 98-473.)
Thanks in large part to Hatch’s help, Utah obtained an additional federal judgeship on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Extra federal judges help reduce the delay for Utahns with cases pending on the federal level.
Hatch was the Senate leader on the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act (P.L. 98-474) with Rep. Henry Waxman introducing the House version of the bill. This law required four specific health warnings on all cigarette packages and advertisements.
President Ronald Reagan sent Hatch on a diplomatic mission to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he extended the hand of American friendship and partnership in the war against invading Soviets. Following Hatch’s visit, the Afghanis received American resources to repel the Soviets. One reporter wrote, “each surface-to-air missile which turned a Soviet aircraft into scrap metal arrived courtesy of Orrin Hatch.”
Following the success of the Hatch-Waxman Act, Hatch scored another victory for American drug consumers with the Orphan Drug Act (P.L. 99-91). It created incentives for private researchers to devote resources to treatments and cures for rare disorders. As of July 2006, 1,549 different orphan drug designations had been granted by the Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD), and 257 orphan drugs had received marketing authorization. By contrast, between 1973 and 1983, fewer than ten such products came to market.
A stalwart opponent of Soviet expansion, Hatch strongly supported an aid package to Contra Rebels fighting the communist-backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In the same year, Hatch became the first US Senator to travel to war-torn Angola in southern Africa, where Soviet encroachment threatened to replace the nation’s independent government with a totalitarian regime.
A strong defender of America’s police officers, Hatch contributed to the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (P.L. 99-408), which banned “cop-killer” bullets.
Following the longest steel strike in US history, Hatch engineered an agreement with USX to sell Geneva Steel to Utah management. Hatch’s involvement saved Geneva Steel and the thousands of jobs it provided to Utahns.
Hatch was the sole Republican cosponsor on a wide-ranging health bill (P.L. 100-607), which included federal funding to combat AIDS through education, blood testing, and community-based health services. “Let us quit judging and start doing what is right,” Hatch said on the Senate floor.
Hatch successfully filibustered a bill (S. 837) to increase the federal minimum wage, because the measure did not include a youth-opportunity sub-minimum training wage to encourage companies to hire first-time workers, which unions adamantly opposed.
Hatch and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) worked together to ban private employers from using lie detectors on workers and job applicants.
Hatch played a leading role in the US Civil Rights Commission Reauthorization (P.L. 101-810), which extended a 1957 law to monitor civil rights enforcement and undertake studies on civil rights.
Hatch won approval of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) (P.L. 101-426), demanding that the federal government acknowledge its responsibility—and provide claims for compensation payments—to Utah “downwinders,” miners, and others for injuries caused by fallout from above-ground atomic testing. In its first 16 years, RECA delivered more than $1 billion to people hurt by the testing.
Hatch led Republican support to ensure passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (P.L. 101-336). This landmark legislation expanded opportunities for society’s most vulnerable by improving public access for people with disabilities and barring discrimination in jobs, housing, and other key services.
Joining Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Hatch passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (P.L. 101-381)—the largest federally funded program to fight HIV/AIDS and improve treatment for individuals and families suffering from the disease. Despite the hysteria surrounding the epidemic in its early years, Hatch was the first Senator to hold hearings on HIV/AIDS and gained significant attention for his eagerness to hug victims in a time of great misunderstanding of the disease.
Following Supreme Court decisions overturning 200 years of Congressional statutes protecting the American flag from desecration, Hatch began his crusade to restore Congress’s authority to protect the flag with a Constitutional amendment, the only way to overturn the court’s decision.
Hatch and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) authored the landmark Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (included in P.L. 101-508). The act makes grants to states and tribes to assist low-income families with child care.
As part of a Congressional delegation, Hatch traveled to newly freed countries in Eastern Europe and witnessed firsthand the success of the Reagan-Bush policy toward communism.
After President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Hatch rushed to the Justice’s defense after several Democratic members of Congress attacked Thomas’s character. As a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch launched a full-throated defense of Thomas on national television, which was instrumental in vindicating Thomas’s reputation and eventually led to his confirmation.
Hatch and the Utah Congressional delegation secured final authorization for the Central Utah Project Completion Act (P.L. 102-575), which helped to preserve and protect Utah’s water sources, wildlife, and environment.
Hatch successfully led the defeat of the Opposed Workplace Fairness Act (S. 53), or the Striker Replacement bill, which would have prohibited employers from hiring permanent replacements for workers engaged in strikes over economic issues.
With the Sanctions for Violation of Software Copyright (P.L. 102-561), Hatch protected the intellectual property rights of software authors.
Over the years, Hatch had grown alarmed by the gradual erosion of religious freedoms in the United States. In the 1980s, judicial activists discarded the long-standing Sherbert Test—which said a compelling state interest must be at stake for any restriction of religion—in favor of bans on religious activity that affected all faiths equally. In response, Hatch joined Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to restore the Sherbert Test by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (P.L. 103-141), which brought together people of all religions and political backgrounds. The Supreme Court ruled a portion of RFRA unconstitutional in 1997, which Hatch and others responded to with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that passed in 2000. To this day, Hatch considers RFRA to be among the most important accomplishments of his Senate service.
Hatch sponsored the Utah Schools and Lands Improvement Act (P.L. 103-93), which set the stage for the exchange of school trust lands with other federal lands. Unlocking these in-holdings has generated millions of dollars for Utah schools.
Hatch became chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs.
With the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) (P.L. 103-417), Hatch guaranteed Americans access to safe dietary supplements while providing a framework for the FDA to remove harmful substances from the market. Until this law passed, the Food and Drug Administration frustrated those who wanted better access to vitamins, herbs, and minerals. But this legislation made these supplements available to millions across the country. These supplements play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of more than 100 million Americans, many of whom are in Utah, where supplements are a thriving industry.
Hatch and then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) created the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, P.L. 103-322), which allotted grants to fight violent crimes against women by strengthening law enforcement and prosecution strategies and improved services for women who had been subject to violent acts. From 1993 to 2001, the rate of intimate partner violence against females dropped by 49 percent and against males by 42 percent.
Hatch became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position he held until 2001. As chairman, Hatch worked diligently to keep politics out of judicial nominations and played a strong role in opposing the appointment of activist judges. The committee likewise benefited from Hatch’s expertise on criminal and intellectual property law.
Hatch amended the Public Health Services Act to grant medical liability protection to doctors serving community health centers (P.L. 107-73), saving the centers the cost of expensive malpractice insurance.
Following the Oklahoma City bombing, Hatch cosponsored the first comprehensive effort to protect Americans from the threats of domestic terrorism with the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (P.L. 104-132). The law limits all appeals to a writ of habeas corpus in capital cases and reduces the length of the appeal process by sharply limiting the role of the federal courts.
Recognizing the incalculable damage that methamphetamine was doing to communities, Hatch sponsored the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act (P.L. 104-237), which aimed to prevent the illegal manufacturing and use of methamphetamine.
Hatch led the effort to pass legislation to improve and simplify the tax code for small businesses, particularly S-corporations. Many of the provisions enacted in the Small Business Job Protection Act were Hatch-led initiatives.
Continuing his commitment to strengthening the welfare of America’s children, Hatch worked to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to provide access to healthcare insurance coverage for children from low-income families (P.L. 105-33). Hatch partnered with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to build bipartisan support for this legislation and eventually pass it into law. Between the law’s inception and Fiscal Year 2005, 34.2 million children had enrolled in CHIP.
Under the Clinton administration, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission threatened to close Hill Air Force Base. Recognizing the asset that Hill Air Force Base was to both the state of Utah and the US Air Force, Hatch galvanized the Utah congressional delegation, which met with senior Air Force personnel and convinced them to keep Hill running.
Hatch cosponsored the Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act (P.L. 105-183), which protects the tax-status of charitable donations to religious institutions.
After the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument designation in 1996 compromised Utah’s ability to provide public education dollars, Hatch teamed up with Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) to exchange State School Trust in-holdings within federal lands in Utah for valuable tracts of federal land elsewhere in the state (P.L. 105-335).
Hatch’s Four Corners Interpretive Center Act (P.L. 106-143) authorized an interpretive center and related visitor facilities within the Four Corners Monument Tribal Park in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Hatch provided continued funding for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and reauthorized the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (P.L. 106-71).
Hatch, along with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Charles Robb (R-VA), held a press conference with high-tech industry leaders to announce the introduction of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit.
Hatch launched a bid for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He would later throw his full support behind then-Govenor George W. Bush.
Continuing his advocacy for “downwinders” and others harmed by radioactive testing, Hatch amended the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) (P.L. 106-245) to extend compensation to additional diseases, classes of workers, and geographic areas.
Hatch defended religious liberty with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (P.L. 106-274), which helps religious institutions avoid state interference in their property through zoning laws. The law also expands religious freedoms to prisoners.
Hatch became the leading pro-life Republican advocate of stem cell research, which promises cures for many diseases facing millions of Americans, including diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Among those conservatives who supported Hatch’s leadership on this issue was former First Lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband President Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s.
Following the September 11 terror attacks, Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatch helped craft the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56), which enhanced law enforcement tools, and has helped prevent many international terrorist strikes against the United States since 9/11. In drafting this law, Hatch successfully argued for provisions to protect civil liberties.
Hatch introduced bills to protect rare paleontological resources near St. George, Utah (S. 1497), and to transfer development of an Armed Forces recreation facility to Park City, Utah (S. 1734).
The Senate unanimously passed Hatch’s resolution (S. Res. 160) designating October 2001 as “Family History Month.” The emphasis Utahns place on family history has long been a trademark of the state.
Hatch helped provide the necessary federal assistance for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, particularly for security. Utah’s Games have been called the most successful Winter Olympics ever.
Hatch oversaw the confirmation of two Utahns to the federal bench: Michael McConnell for the 10th Circuit Court and Paul Cassell for the US District Court for the District of Utah.
Hatch’s Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TECH) Act (P.L. 107-273) revised federal copyright law to assist instructional broadcasting and distance education. Many rural Utahns rely on distance learning to expand their educational opportunities.
Recognizing America could not incarcerate its way out of its drug problems, Hatch wrote—and Congress passed—the Drug Treatment, Education, and Prevention Act (P.L. 107-273) that placed appropriate emphasis on prosecution for repeat, violent offenders and drug traffickers; improved treatment for non-violent and first-time offenders; and encouraged education to discourage drug use. Since 2003, the United States has invested millions in compassionate, innovative programs resulting from this law that offer those addicted to drugs an opportunity to become productive members of society.
Hatch again became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position he held until 2005.
As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch was on the negotiating team that developed the final version of the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act (P.L. 108-173), the largest change to Medicare since its inception. The Act included a number of Hatch-written provisions, such as 1) boosting physician reimbursement rates in rural areas, 2) reducing the paperwork and regulatory burdens on physicians and other Medicare providers, and 3) initiating a healthcare quality study by the Institute of Medicine.
Continuing his advocacy for America’s children, Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatch authored the PROTECT ACT (P.L. 108-21), which simplified prosecution against pedophiles and child pornographers.
This same year, Hatch also helped establish a ban on partial-birth abortion.
To keep laws in pace with technological advancements, Hatch played an essential role in passing the Justice for All Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-405), which provided much-needed funding and assistance to realize the full potential of DNA technology in solving crimes and protecting the innocent. It was also a critical step toward eliminating the nationwide backlog of rape cases and providing justice for the victims of crime, as well as those who are wrongfully accused and convicted.
To protect unborn children, Hatch cosponsored the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “The Laci [Peterson] and Connor’s Law” (P.L. 108-212). The law created a separate criminal offense for killing or harming an unborn child during a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman.
Hatch supported the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (P.L. 108-277) which permitted qualified law enforcement officers, both current and retired, to carry concealed firearms in any state, notwithstanding any state or local law. The law also helped address the problem of revenge attacks against officers by criminals whom they helped send to prison.
After many years of debate, Congress passed a comprehensive energy bill (P.L. 109-58), which included several key initiatives sponsored by Hatch that struck right at the heart of the nation’s energy problems: increasing domestic oil supply through unconventional resources, such as oil shale and tar sands; enhancing refining capacity; and promoting geothermal and other alternative sources of energy.
A Hatch-sponsored law (P.L. 109-129) established a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Network to prepare, store, and distribute human umbilical cord blood (HUCB) stem cells for the treatment of patients and to support peer-reviewed research using such cells. This research helps patients suffering from diseases such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, and sickle-cell anemia. This law significantly increases a patient’s chance of finding a suitable genetic match when faced with a grave disease.
Hatch played a pivotal role in bringing an immigration court to Utah to help the state cope with the burdens of illegal immigration.
Hatch convinced the Department of the Interior (DOI) to reopen a public comment period on the proposed plan by Private Fuel Storage (PFS) to store spent nuclear fuel at the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Tooele, Utah. Based on the comments by Utah citizenry, the DOI denied PFS permission to either store or transport the nuclear material—killing the decade-long struggle to store waste dangerously close to the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), where live ordnance is used directly under the low-level flight path of 7,000 F-16s every year.
Hatch’s sex-offender registry bill was signed into law as the Adam Walsh Act (P.L. 109-248). The law increased penalties for sex-crimes against children and requires convicted offenders to register their whereabouts in person every month or face additional jail time.
Hatch’s proposed Constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 12), which would empower Congress to ban desecration of the American flag, received 66 votes in the Senate—just one vote short of the two-thirds required to pass. This is the closest Hatch’s amendment ever came to passing.
The Department of Homeland Security, following promptings from Hatch, found that Utah needed a Field Office Directorate (FOD) to help it handle its illegal immigration caseload.
Hatch became Utah’s longest-serving Senator.
Partnering with actor Michael J. Fox and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Hatch led efforts to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S. 5), which would expand scientists’ access to embryonic stem cell lines—opening the door to potential lifesaving cures for millions of Americans. Hatch vigorously defended this effort by stating, “It’s the possible remedying of some of the worst diseases in our society. . . . Stem cell research promotes life. It’s the most pro-life position you could take.” The legislation passed the Senate on April 11, 2007, by a vote of 63-34, then passed the House on June 7, 2007, by a vote of 247-176. President George W. Bush ultimately vetoed the bill on June 19, 2007.
Hatch championed the reauthorization of the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act (P.L. 110-391), a program that awards up to 5,000 foreign nationals annually the opportunity to come to the United States to serve in religious organizations and denominations across the country. These religious workers provide crucial services that not only strengthen congregations but entire communities.
Originally signed into law in 1996 (P.L. 104-66), the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act’s authority expired in 2005. Recognizing the importance of reauthorizing TBI to meet the needs of military personnel and civilians with brain injuries, Hatch enlisted his colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), in enacting the bill and sending it to the President’s desk for signature (P.L. 110-206).
Hatch was appointed chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, a position he would hold for a decade, promoting pro-growth, pro-innovation policies for the tech sector.
Hatch honored his longtime friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), by passing the Serve America Act, which expanded national and community-based service opportunities for all Americans. The legislation encouraged individuals of all ages to serve their communities; it also supported social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to tackle our most urgent problems.
After years of debate and negotiations, the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was signed into law (P.L. 111-148). Hatch authored and led negotiations for this law, which ensured a balance of innovation and generic competition for the biotechnology industry, providing 12 years of market exclusivity.
In a joint Salt Lake Tribune op-ed with then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Hatch called for extending and strengthening the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit.
Hatch named Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Hatch and Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, held a technology and policy fireside chat before thousands of students at Brigham Young University.
The America Invents Act, a patent reform bill, was signed into law (P.L. 112-29). This law was the culmination of an effort that began in 2006 when Hatch introduced the first iteration of the legislation.
With Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Hatch introduced the State Child Welfare Innovation Act to make improvements to various child welfare programs and provide for limited state demonstration projects to improve outcomes for children and families. Major provisions of this bill passed as part of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34).
Hatch re-elected to a historic seventh term in the US Senate.
Hatch helped lead the effort to make permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in the American Taxpayer Relief Act (P.L. 112-240).
Hatch introduced the WIN for Children and Families Act, which required states to demonstrate how they are prohibiting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from being used in casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs. The bill passed as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96).
Hatch led a bipartisan group of Senators, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), in introducing the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act, which, among other things, would greatly increase the number of H-1B visas for highly-skilled immigrants working in science and technology fields. Working with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Hatch also developed an immigrant guest worker program important for the agricultural sector. Both the technology and agricultural reforms, along with many other Hatch amendments, were included in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), which Hatch supported and the Senate passed by a vote of 68-32.
Hatch hosted his 27th Utah Women’s Conference with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice entitled, “Discovering the Diversity and Unity of Women.”
Hatch and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) included in the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution an amendment to repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device products ranging from surgical tools to bed pans. Hatch would later introduce the bipartisan Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Act in the 114th Congress. Hatch’s leadership on this issue proved successful, as the medical device tax was suspended twice under his watch: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-113), signed into law on Dec. 18, 2015, included a two-year moratorium on the medical device excise tax. And H.R. 195 (P.L. 115-120), signed into law on Jan. 22, 2018, extended an additional two years the moratorium on the medical device excise tax.
After a scandal over massive wait times in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system and wide-spread misconduct, Hatch vigorously fought for immediate reform. He joined his colleagues in enacting the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act (P.L. 113-146), which provided funding to hire more healthcare providers, build new health clinics, and support veterans and their families with more educational and psychological benefits.
With the aggressive spread of superbugs—or bacteria that are substantially resistant or unresponsive to any existing and available antibiotic—Hatch and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) first introduced the Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health (PATH) Act, which would establish a new limited population antibacterial drug approval pathway for antibiotics that treat serious or life-threatening infections for which there are few or no other options. The PATH Act was included in the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255), a collection of 19 bills that would make changes to how the Food and Drug Administration approves new drugs and medical devices.
As the most senior Senator of the majority party, Hatch was sworn in as 90th President pro tempore of the Senate, making him presiding officer of the Senate and third in the line of succession to the Presidency of the United States, behind only the Vice President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Assuming his third committee chairmanship, Hatch claimed the gavel as Senate Finance Committee chairman.
Hatch helped pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (P.L. 114-10), a bipartisan bill that permanently repealed and replaced the Medicare physician reimbursement formula with an improved payment system that rewards quality, efficiency, and innovation so seniors and doctors alike will no longer have to worry about annual crises affecting Medicare. The bill is fully paid for with provisions described as a “down payment” on long-term entitlement reform.
Sen. Hatch led the vigorous battle to pass bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (P.L. 114-26). The legislation established concrete rules for international trade negotiations to help the United States deliver strong, high-standard trade agreements to boost American exports and create new economic opportunities and better jobs for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs. TPA gave the American people a voice in international trade talks and empowered Congress to ensure America’s priorities are met.
As the principal driver, Hatch helped enact the bipartisan, bicameral Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-113), which made a number of temporary tax provisions permanent, putting an end to the repeated tax extenders exercise that had plagued Congress for decades and giving greater certainty to US taxpayers across the board. Among other things, the PATH Act made permanent the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit and Section 179 small businesses expensing, which allows small businesses—the main drivers of American job creation—to grow and invest with more immediate tax benefits. The bill also extended the term for bonus depreciation, giving more companies greater incentives to invest in assets that will help their businesses grow and expand.
Against the backdrop of one of the most divisive presidential elections in American history, Hatch still found ways to reach across the aisle to forge consensus on meaningful bipartisan proposals. These included the Defend Trade Secrets Act (P.L. 114-153), the most significant intellectual property reform of the last decade. Hatch’s bill created a private right of action for companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court, enabling them to fight trade secret theft and recover stolen intellectual property.
Hatch continued to press forward with his innovation agenda, bringing lawmakers together in enacting the Judicial Redress Act (P.L. 114-126). This legislation paved the way for approval of the EU-US Data Privacy Shield, which was key to securing cross-border data flows and improving coordination among law enforcement on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-328), Hatch included a provision that enhanced the Utah Test and Training Range by more than 625,000 acres to allow the Air Force to safely test “next generation” weapons, such as the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, the F-22, and long-range strike bombers.
At the end of the 114th Congress, Hatch had passed over 30 legislative proposals into law—the most of any of his colleagues and more than twice as many as the average Senator.
As President pro tempore, Hatch was appointed the designated survivor during the swearing-in ceremony of the President of the United States.
Headed into the 115th Congress, Hatch knew it would likely be his last. But rather than coast, he chose to sprint to the finish line. Among Hatch’s most significant achievements of his service was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97). As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch was instrumental in passing this bill, which enacted the first comprehensive tax reform in more than three decades. The legislation provided immediate relief to businesses large and small and helped jumpstart the largest economic expansion since the Great Recession.
Hatch also laid the legislative groundwork on a number of bipartisan proposals that would pass the following year, including: the HEAL Act (P.L. 115-271), which enacted key reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and family services to address the nation’s opioid crisis; the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act (P.L. 115-299), which provided meaningful restitution to the victims of child pornography by giving them access to ample compensation from the Crime Victims Fund; and the Rapid DNA Act (P.L. 115-50), which empowered state and local law enforcement to use rapid DNA technology to reduce evidence backlogs and more quickly catch criminals.
2018 was Sen. Hatch’s last and most productive year in office. On the heels of passing historic tax reform, he wasted no time in advancing bipartisan reforms that had a meaningful impact on the lives of everyday Americans.
Among these accomplishments were the STOP School Violence Act (P.L. 115-141), which sought to curb gun violence by funding school security improvements and encouraging investments in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens; the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (P.L. 115-264), which updated music licensing laws for the digital age to ensure songwriters and other music creators receive fair payment for their work; and long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the same program that Hatch developed with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) more than 20 years prior to increase access to child medical care for low-income families. Working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Hatch included the CLOUD Act in the Fiscal Year 2018 funding bill (P.L. 115-141), which put the United States and other countries on a path towards resolving the problems of cross-border data requests by law enforcement in the age of e-mail and cloud computing.
Outside of the legislative sphere, Hatch also played a leading role in the judicial confirmation process. By the end of the 115th Congress, he had confirmed two Supreme Court nominees, more than two dozen federal appellate judges, and more than 50 federal district court judges.
In one of the final acts of his public service, Hatch published “Restoring Civility: A Call to Our Better Angels,” a compilation of op-eds and floor speeches urging his Senate colleagues and all Americans to put aside the politics of division and search for common ground. His op-eds, published in The Wall Street Journal and Time, called for a restoration of civility and pluralism, warned about the dangers of identity politics, and encouraged a détente in the culture wars. Included in this collection was Hatch’s final floor speech in which he mourned that “The Senate, as an institution, is in crisis,” but also offered a solution: a return to the culture of comity, compromise, and collaboration that once defined the Senate. Hatch’s compilation distilled the spirit of his Senate service and helped lay the philosophical framework for the mission of the Hatch Foundation.
Hatch likewise leaned into his diplomatic role as President pro tempore of the United States Senate. In this capacity, he met with foreign dignitaries, including presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and ambassadors on official travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, the Azores, Portugal, France, and Croatia. In each country, he sought to strengthen US economic and military relations. He also worked closely with the US Department of State to secure the release of Josh Holt, a Utah resident who had been detained on false charges as a prisoner in Venezuela for a year.
As the capstone to Hatch’s public service, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the national interests of the United States. Sen. Hatch accepted this award on behalf of the people of Utah, without whom he says he could have accomplished nothing.