WASHINGTON – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will retire from the Senate at the end of this term, he announced Tuesday, a decision that will bring a decades-long congressional career to an end early next year.

“After much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term,” Hatch, 83, said in a video posted on Twitter. Hatch is the president pro tempore of the Senate, as well as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Hatch’s retirement means an open seat race in his Republican-leaning state in this year’s midterm election. Some Republicans expect Mitt Romney to run for Hatch’s seat, although the former presidential nominee has not made any definitive public statements about his plans.

As the top lawmaker on the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch played a key role in passing the tax bill that President Donald Trump signed into law late last month.

“When the President visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said in a statement.

“That’s why, after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term. 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.”

For months, Hatch’s political future has been on the minds of Republican strategists and officials, many of whom have expected him to step down.

Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976. He is finishing up his seventh term in the upper chamber of Congress this year.

As president pro tempore, Hatch is currently in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

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