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In Utah trip, Trump looks to boost Hatch

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

After President Donald Trump signed proclamations Monday drastically diminishing the scale of national monuments in Utah, he handed off the pen to a senator who still seems a most unlikely ally.

"I've served under many presidents -- seven to be exact -- but none is like the man we have in the White House today. When you talk, this president listens," Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch said Monday in introducing Trump at Utah's state Capitol in Salt Lake City.

The longtime Republican lawmaker said that when he met with Trump at the White House in January shortly after he was sworn in, the president asked what could be done to help Utah. Hatch suggested he curtail the Obama administration's action creating the Bears Ears National Monument under the Antiquities Act.

"Without hesitation, he looked at me, looked me squarely in the eye, and said, 'We'll fix it,'" Hatch recalled. "Boy, is he coming through here today."

For as much as Trump wants to drain the proverbial swamp of career politicians and enact congressional term limits, he also wants the 83-year-old Senate president pro tempore to seek an eighth term next year.

White House aides often note the president is constantly calling Republican members -- something lawmakers back up -- typically with grins and tales of late-night calls.

 

Trump's relationship with Hatch is no different. The duo were in close touch as Senate Republicans for months crafted and then last week passed a sweeping tax overhaul bill.

They shared a brief embrace and private words behind the presidential podium after that introduction at Monday's ceremony, and Trump warmly said he has gotten to know Hatch "well" during his first 10 months in office.

White House officials declined to comment on their relationship, though Trump shined a light on it during his remarks in Salt Lake City.

Hatch had said his current term would be his last when he ran for re-election in 2012. But after finding himself in the middle of more policy debates on Capitol Hill, whether on taxes, health insurance or national monuments, the Utah Republican has said he might reconsider and run for another term.

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