Forty-one years ago, the people of Utah elected me to the United States Senate. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what the next four decades would bring.
The Reagan Revolution. The fall of Communism. The explosion of the internet. 9/11. The election of Barack Obama. The election of Donald Trump.
At every step of the way, I’ve been grateful for the trust the people of Utah have placed in me to be their representative. And I’ve worked my hardest every single day to earn and re-earn that trust and to ensure that Utah always has a seat at the table.
During my time in the Senate, I’ve authored more bills that have become law than any other member of Congress. Early in my Senate career, I wrote the Hatch-Waxman Act, which helped create the modern generic drug industry, allowing families to buy safe and affordable medication for everything from high blood pressure to the common cold. I worked tirelessly to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and created the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. I also worked to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a critical law that guarantees robust religious protections for all Americans. And just last month, I led Senate passage of a historic overhaul of our nation’s tax code.
I’ve also made judicial nominations a top priority. As the longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve participated in the confirmation of every current Supreme Court Justice. I fought long and hard for Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and most recently, Neil Gorsuch, just to name a few. Equally important, I’ve worked to ensure that judicial nominees are evaluated on their temperament and qualifications, not their political views.
And then there’s all the work I’ve done behind the scenes. I cannot begin to count how many phones calls I’ve made over the years to help secure visas for visiting LDS General Authorities, or missionaries, or to delay deportation proceedings that would have broken up a Utah family. I worked tirelessly to secure $100 million for the Huntsman Cancer Institute in its early years. I’ve brought dozens of top tech leaders to Utah to build awareness of our dynamic tech industry. And last April, I visited the White House at the request of the LDS Church to personally ask Vice President Mike Pence to revise an Obama-era executive order that was threatening BYU and other church schools. These activities haven’t always made headlines, but they’ve made a real difference for our state.
Having gotten tax reform across the finish line — and with confidence that my successor will continue to play an outsized role as Utah’s next senator — I have decided not to run for re-election this year. This has been a difficult decision, but I’m confident it’s the right one.
To be sure, there’s still much I could accomplish were I to continue serving in the Senate beyond 2018. Recent screeds by some of my detractors have served only to underscore just how much I’ve accomplished over the last year. Some of these voices, it seems, think it’s more important for our representatives in Congress to try to tear down the current president than it is to advance a positive policy agenda for our state. I, for one, will always choose helping Utahns over adding to an overheated echo chamber, which is one reason I've been able to achieve so much during my time in Congress. Though I do admit I find some amusement in seeing a major editorial board reduced by its hatred of Trump to ranting about me.
My decision to retire at the end of this year does not mean my work in Washington is done. A year in politics is an eternity. To cite just a few examples, CHIP needs to be reauthorized; our immigration laws need to be brought into the 21st century; intellectual property and consumer privacy protections need to be strengthened; and there are scores of bright, young, conservative judges that need to be confirmed. I intend to play a central role in each of these coming debates, just as I always have throughout my Senate service.
I will forever be grateful to the people of Utah for granting me the privilege of representing them in the United States Senate. Everything I am, and everything I’ve accomplished, I owe to my family, my faith, and the people of our great state.
Thank you for your support through all these years. God bless.