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Sen. Orrin Hatch, Co-Author of Children's Health Insurance Program, to Retire


Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who helped author the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, will not seek another term in Congress, according to news reports.

A member of the Senate education committee, Hatch, 83, also authored the Education Innovation and Research program, which is included in the Every Student Succeeds Act and is designed to help schools develop innovative approaches to education and take them to scale. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he also guided the recent tax-reform bill through Congress, which could impact K-12 choice, state and local spending on schools, and other education issues. 

Hatch announced his decision to retire from the Senate in a video he posted to Twitter on Tuesday. He was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and is serving his seventh term. 

In education circles, Hatch is perhaps best known for working with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., to create CHIP, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1997. (The initiative used to be known as the State Children's Health Insurance Program.) It is designed to provide health insurance to millions of children who otherwise don't have access to it. The program has enjoyed bipartisan support, although last year lawmakers missed a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize CHIP. Congress approved a new round of short-term federal cash for CHIP just before leaving for the holiday break. But there's still long-term concern about the fate of the program. Hatch has said that he intends to make sure CHIP continues. 

Hatch also collaborated with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., another member of the Senate education committee, to create the Education Innovation and Research program. In its proposed fiscal 2018 budget, the Trump administration proposed using that program to fund state-run voucher programs, although so far Congress has declined to back this initiative.

He's also worked on career and technical education issues—in 1982, he introduced a proposal to turn federal CTE funding into a block-grant program.  

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