Sen. Orrin Hatch will retire at the end of his term

Key Points
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch will not run for re-election later this year.
  • Hatch is the second-longest serving current member of the Senate and helped to push the Republican tax law through as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Mitt Romney was considering running for Hatch's seat if the senator retired, according to reports.
Orrin Hatch leaving the Senate

Orrin Hatch, currently the second-longest serving U.S. senator, plans to retire at the end of his term.

In a video shared on Twitter, the 83-year-old Utah Republican announced his plan to leave the Senate early next year after more than 40 years. Hatch's announcement came just a little more than a week after the Republican tax plan that he helped to craft was signed into law.

President Donald Trump had urged Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, to seek re-election later this year. Hatch showered Trump with praise during and after Congress' passage of its tax bill, setting himself apart from some GOP senators who criticized the president's actions or fitness for office this year.

In the video, Hatch said he was "deeply grateful" to serve as a senator and said "the next chapter in my public service is just beginning."

"When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I've always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching. That's why, after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I've decided to retire at the end of this term. Although I will miss serving you in the Senate, I look forward to spending more time with family, especially my sweet wife Elaine, whose unwavering love and support made all of this possible."

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hatch highlighted what he deemed some of his most significant achievements in Congress: playing a role "in the creation of the modern generic drug industry, the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, and the confirmation of every current member of the United States Supreme Court." He also mentioned the passage of the GOP tax law among those moments.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was "very sad" to see Hatch leave and is thankful for his "massive effort" toward passing the tax legislation. The White House has not determined whether Trump will campaign for the eventual Republican candidate, she added.

Former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was considering running for Hatch's seat if the senator retired, according to reports. Romney has strongly criticized Trump and could prove another irritant to the president if elected.

Romney lives in Utah and is popular in the state. He will be 71 at the time of this year's midterm elections.

In a statement Tuesday, Romney thanked Hatch but did not address whether he plans to run for the seat.

"Senator Hatch has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honor," he said in a Facebook post.

After Congress' passage of the tax plan in December, Hatch praised Trump's first year in office.

"Mr. President, I have to say that you're living up to everything I thought you would," he said at a White House event. "You're one heck of a leader, and we're all benefiting from it."

Hatch joined the Senate in 1977. Only Sen. Patrick Leah, D-Vt., has served longer among current members.