WASHINGTON (AP) — 3:09 p.m.
Cropped Photo: Diliff / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
The White House says President Donald Trump is "very sad" that Utah Republican Orrin Hatch has decided to leave the Senate rather than run for re-election this year.
Trump had been encouraging the 83-year-old senator to seek an eighth term. But Hatch announced Tuesday that he will retire when his term ends early next year.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump has the "greatest and deepest respect" for Hatch and is particularly thankful for his leadership on the recently enacted tax bill.
Hatch's decision would appear to clear the way for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for the seat.
Sanders declined to say whether Trump would be open to supporting Romney, saying she has yet to discuss that with the president.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah says he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the U.S. Senate.
Hatch, 83, says he's always been a fighter, "but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves."
Hatch is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. He chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and was a major force in getting a tax overhaul through in December. His retirement opens the door for Republican Mitt Romney to run for his seat.
Hatch says he decided to retire at the end of his seventh term after "much prayer and discussion with family and friends" over the holiday break.
He says "I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning."