Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. (Photo: AP)

After helping to shepherd the tax cuts package into law, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced Tuesday that he plans to retire when his term ends early next year.

“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,” Hatch, 83, said.

Published reports say Hatch’s announcement leaves the door open for Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

Hatch’s announcement comes just a week after Congress passed — and President Donald Trump signed into law — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Hatch called “truly a historic success.”

The new tax law “will do a lot of good for a great number of people throughout our country,” he said.  

Hatch announced the same day that he plans to hold a hearing on Jan. 9 to consider the “anticipated nomination” of Alex Azar to serve as the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary. 

Azar, who served at HHS in 2001, under former President George W. Bush, as the HHS general counsel, “has demonstrated that he has what it takes to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and that he will tackle the challenges facing the American healthcare system head-on,” Hatch said. 

“Next week’s hearing will give Finance Committee members a firsthand opportunity to hear from Mr. Azar about his plans to help mitigate Obamacare’s corrosive effects, while ensuring Medicare and Medicaid are strengthened and maintained. This hearing is an important step in advancing a fair and transparent vetting of this nominee.” 

Hatch, who’s served in the Senate for four decades, said in announcing his planned retirement that he’s “authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today,” and “played a central 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.”

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