Tribune Editorial: If Hatch isn't going to use his seniority to get things done, what's the point in having him?

In this April 6, 2017 file photo, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, conducts committee business. (AP Photo, File/Cliff Owen)

Sen. Orrin Hatch is ready and eager, again, to fix the problem created when President Trump declared he would no longer sanction the Deferred Action for Childhood Actions program. That declaration left approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants susceptible to deportation. The program begins phasing out in March.

Hatch spoke at a news conference on Monday that revealed the Succeed Act, which allows immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to apply for “conditional permanent resident” status if they submit to a background check and maintain employment, enroll in school or serve in the military. After 10 years they can apply for a green card and in another five for naturalized citizenship.

Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma wrote the bill. So, not Hatch. Hatch is a co-sponsor. Hatch introduced a similar bill called the DREAM Act in 2001. It failed to pass, many times. At the news conference on Monday Tillis commented on Hatch’s multiple, failed attempts, “With all due respect.”

Respect is due no more. Hatch said he’s “tired of this problem.” His claim that Utah needs him because of his seniority and elevated status falls flat when he fails to lead out and solve even bipartisan issues.

He also recently proclaimed it will be “virtually impossible” to pass a replacement to Obamacare. Well, with ineffective senators like him, it just might be. He could not even state a position on the latest failed effort to repeal Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy proposal. If he doesn’t know his position, who does? Are his aides busy waiting to see which way the wind blows?

In a senate hearing for the Graham-Cassidy bill, Hatch stopped the hearing to have Capitol police haul protestors out of the committee room. The protestors were members of the disabled community protesting proposed cuts to Medicaid. Some were removed from their wheelchairs and dragged out.

Hatch said to them, “If you want a hearing, you’d better shut up.” What instead might have happened if Hatch had formally recognized their protest, stated their position on the record, thanked them for their civic participation, told them he understood their concerns as disabled citizens, and asked with respect if he could continue the hearing? We’ll never know.

As he reconvened the hearing, Hatch said, “If you can’t be in order, get the heck out of here.” Sen. Hatch is starting to sound like a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Utah should call him home to do just that.