Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Thursday that the Heritage Foundation’s quest for idelogical purity in the Republican Party could cost the conservative think tank “its clout and its power around Washington, D.C.”
During a discussion on MSNBC about the just-resolved budget and debt crises, Hatch lamented how “good think tanks in the past” are “losing their reputation because of this radicalness.” Host Chuck Todd asked the senator if it was a reference to the Heritage Foundation and its political arm, Heritage Action, which announced its opposition to the Senate deal to re-open the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7.
“Well, yeah. Of course I am. Heritage used to be the conservative organization helping Republicans and helping conservatives and helping us to be able to have the best intellectual conservative ideas,” Hatch said. “There’s a real question in the minds of many Republicans now — I’m not just speaking for myself — for a lot of people, is Heritage gonna go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore?”
“I hope not,” he added. “I’m gonna try and help it to survive and do well, but right now I think it’s in danger of losing its clout and its power around Washington, D.C.”
Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) left Capitol Hill in January to serve as president of the Heritage Foundation. Under DeMint’s stewardship, Heritage became one of the fiercest advocates of the movement to defund the Affordable Care Act, an effort that led to the government shutdown and brought the United States close to default.
Hatch released a statement Wednesday to announce his support for the debt and budget deal, while noting that defunding the health care law was “never possible.”