Orrin G Hatch

Grassley Will Step into Tax Storm, Finance Gavel in Hand
Iowa Republican was a key player on big-ticket measures during his previous tenure as Finance chairman

Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, conducts a Senate Judiciary Committee markup in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley is expected to be the next chairman of the Finance Committee, putting the Iowa Republican at the center of the storm in the 116th Congress on what could be divisive debates over tax, trade and health care policy.

Grassley cited a sense of “optimism” fueled by the “pro-growth” policies of a Republican president and Congress. “Looking ahead. ... I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves,” he said in a statement released Friday. “That means working to provide Americans with additional tax relief and tax fairness so they can spend more of their hard-earned money on what’s important to them.”

Chuck Grassley Opts for Finance Chairmanship
Move kicks off a round of musical chairs in the Senate, opening up a slot for a new Judiciary panel chairman

Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, will succeed Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as gavel-holder on the Senate Finance panel. That means Judiciary will be looking for a new leader too. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley announced he would take over the gavel of the tax-writing Finance Committee in the 116th Congress, a position he held in the early part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

Grassley’s move also opens up a slot for a new Judiciary panel chairman, likely South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham

James Hansen, Long-Serving Utah Republican, Dies at 86
Former Ethics and Natural Resources chairman served from 1981 to 2003

Rep. James V. Hansen, R-Utah, on Feb. 19, 1989. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. James V. Hansen, a Utah Republican who served in the House from 1981 to 2003, died on Wednesday. He was 86. 

“With Congressman Jim Hansen’s passing, Utah has lost a true statesman. Whether it was in the Navy, in the state legislature, or in the halls of Congress, Jim served with honor and distinction, always putting principle before party and others before self. Utah would not be what it is today without Congressman Jim Hansen. I’m grateful to have known such a remarkable man and even more grateful to have called him a friend,” Utah GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch said in a statement announcing the news. 

Trump to Award Retiring Orrin G. Hatch Presidential Medal of Freedom
Mitt Romney won retiring Utah senator’s seat

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump will award retiring Sen. Orrin G. Hatch the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Saturday.

The Utah Republican is among a group selected for the honor that includes late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, rock music legend Elvis Presley, former NFL star quarterback Roger Staubach, baseball legend Babe Ruth and others.

Romney Shades Away From Trump as High Profile Senate Role Awaits
Not since Hillary Clinton’s 2000 election has a Senate candidate come with such clout

Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann greet supporters as he leaves his election night party on Tuesday in Orem, Utah. Romney won the election to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney easily defeated Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson to clinch an open Utah Senate seat, positioning him to become the highest-profile freshman senator since Hillary Clinton’s successful New York bid in 2000 when her husband was still president.

With his more than 60 percent win, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is poised to fill a power vacuum in the Senate GOP. The party has lost many of its most senior members and moderate voices through retirement, not to mention the death of John McCain. Purists from both parties have looked to Romney as one of the lone — if only — politicians with the clout and gravitas to become both a counterweight to President Donald Trump and a defender of the institution.

Tea Party-Aligned Group Backing Rep. Mia Love at 11th Hour
DCCC pumps another $250,000 into Utah race to support Democrat Ben McAdams

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, is in a toss-up race with Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams in Utah's 4th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just a week before the midterm elections on Nov. 6, one of the largest Tea Party-aligned groups in the country is throwing money into Utah’s 4th District race to help incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love.

FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based conservative group that helped fund the Tea Party wave of the early 2010s, will spend some of the $270,000 it has pledged to 21 races over the last week of the 2018 cycle on Love’s re-election effort, including a last-minute peer-to-peer texting blitz.

‘Highly Unlikely’ Senate Passes Trump Tax Cut After Election, Hatch Says
Tax, election analysts dismiss Trump proposal as political gambit to rally supporters to polls for GOP

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talks with reporters after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on judicial nominations in Dirksen Building on October 24, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is “highly unlikely” to pass a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class even after the midterm elections, GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“I’ve seen miracles happen before,” the retiring Utah Republican said. But he added that it would take “a real monumental effort” to get anything like Trump has proposed to rally Republicans to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterms through the Senate.

Democrats’ Absence Not Halting Procession of Trump Judicial Nominees
Recess week hearing features two nominees for the Ninth Circuit

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has been a regular participant in the Judiciary Committee hearings during the Senate recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For the second week in a row, no Senate Democrats made the trip back to D.C. to question a slate of President Donald Trump’s nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, but their boycott is not impeding the GOP’s ability to line up those nominees for confirmation by the end of the year. 

Sen. Michael D. Crapo of Idaho presided over the hearing, which also featured an appearance by former Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. Democrats have decried the unusual recess hearings as a further erosion of senatorial courtesy and an indication of Republicans’ desire to ram through judges regardless of institutional protocol.

At the Races: 19 Days Left
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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé, Bridget Bowman and Stephanie Akin

Even Without Democrats, Trump Judicial Nominee Gets Some Tough Questions
Sen. John Kennedy asked about Allison Jones Rushing’s experience for appeals court

Allison Jones Rushing, nominee to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, testified Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t make the trip back to Capitol Hill to question one of President Donald Trump’s federal appellate picks Wednesday.

But that doesn’t mean she got away without some tough questions.