ENG: Maurice Dunlea Hinchey (born October 27, 1938), was a U.S. Representative serving from 1993 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. In 2012 he announced he would retire at the end of his term, ending a long political career.
A New York City native who moved to the Hudson Valley where he attended high school and college, Hinchey had previously represented part of the area in the New York State Assembly since 1974. As chair of that body's Environmental Conservation Committee, he took the lead in bringing environmental issues to the fore, particularly when he held hearings on the problems created by toxic waste disposal in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls. In his later years in Congress he vehemently opposed hydraulic fracturing to exploit the natural gas resources of the Marcellus Shale. Throughout his career he was considered a political progressive for his liberal stands on other issues.
Early life, education and career
Hinchey was born to a working-class family in New York City's Lower West Side, but has spent most of his adult life in Saugerties.
After graduating from high school, Hinchey enlisted in the U.S. Navy, during which time he served in the Pacific on the destroyer U.S.S. Marshall. After being honorably discharged, he spent two years working as a laborer in a cement plant. While in college he earned his tuition working as a toll bridge collector on the New York State Thruway.
He graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a B.A. in 1968 and an M.A. in 1970.
Hinchey first sought public office in 1972, with an unsuccessful race for the New York State Assembly. Ulster County was at the time and would continue to be a Republican stronghold.
Hinchey ran again in 1974 and this time won his seat in the New York State Assembly. He was the first Democrat elected from his district to represent Ulster County since 1912.
Hinchey then served in the Assembly for eighteen years.
He was particularly noted for his work on protecting the natural environment. For fourteen years he chaired the Committee on Environmental Conservation.Hinchey also served on the Ways and Means, Rules, Banks, Health, Higher Education, Labor, Energy and Agriculture committees.
During his chairmanship of the Committee on Environmental Conservation, the committee conducted a successful investigation into the causes of "Love Canal," the nation's first major toxic dump site. During his tenure, he also played a crucial role in the passage of the country's first law concerning regulation of acid rain. His committee also gained public attention for its investigation of the infiltration of the waste removal industry by organized crime.
U.S. House of Representatives - Committee assignments
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
- Congressional Narcotics Abuse and Control Caucus
- Congressional Native American Caucus
- Congressional Progressive Caucus.
- Education Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
- Steel Caucus
- Congressional Arts Caucus
He was one of 31 members of the House who voted to uphold the objection to counting the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004 put forth by Ohio Rep.
Tubbs Jones in order to encourage "a formal and legitimate debate about election irregularities".
On June 18, 2008, he stated: "Should the people of the United States own refineries? Maybe so. Frankly, I think that's a good idea," but conceded that it was unlikely the government would do so, and suggested putting national pressure on the oil companies.
Maurice Hinchey and veterans
Maurice Hinchey, a Navy Veteran, scored highly on a 2010 report released by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Hinchey, a strong supporter of pro-veteran policies, has helped vote numerous pieces of legislation into law in the past several years; the American Legion has called 2010 “a banner year on veterans legislation”. The bill most recently passed, the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, will address issues of veterans' housing and employment as well as enhance insurance programs for surviving and disabled veterans. In 2009, Hinchey was a member of the House of Appropriations Committee, and was a part of the largest funding for the Department of Veterans' affairs in the past 30 years.
Hinchey wrote the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act, which would provide the opportunity for veterans to hold the military accountable for insufficient healthcare.
Hinchey was an original co-sponsor in the Small Business Clean Energy Financing Act. The act contributed about $630 million dollars in loans to environmentally friendly energy companies in the years between 2006 and 2009. Hinchey has been a solar energy supporter; he helped organize the non-profit organization called The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC). TSEC supports the growth of a solar energy industry in New York, creating green jobs in the Hudson Valley area. Maurice supported the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act. The bill supports green energy by offering rebates to homeowners who improve their homes to conserve more energy.
In 2010 midterm elections, Hinchey clashed with his opponent over shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in upstate New York. Hinchey is against gas drilling in this area. However, it is not the only time he has clashed over gas drilling. Obama's administration ignored a request by Hinchey to slow drilling in New York and Pennsylvania. Along with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Hinchey has introduced legislation called the “FRAC Act” which proposes lifting fracturing exemptions and forcing public disclosure.
Hinchey supports of the Clean Air Act, and doesn't approve of the Bush Administration’s decision to roll back the New Source Review (NSR) component of the Act, fearing that it will result in increased acid rain and more pollution of the lakes of the area. Hinchey is disappointed with General Electric's delays and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to properly enforce a decision to clean up the Hudson River and make GE pay for the removal of PCB pollution.
Hinchey supports medical marijuana. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment — which has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives every year since 2003 — would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Justice Department from spending taxpayer money to raid, arrest, or prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers in the 13 states where medical marijuana is legal. It would not have prevented the DEA from arresting individuals who are involved in marijuana-related activities unconnected to medical use.
On June 9, 2009, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations approved adding a provision authored by Hinchey to the committee report on the fiscal 2010 Justice Department appropriations bill, requesting "clarification of the Department's policy regarding enforcement of federal laws and use of federal resources against individuals involved in medical marijuana activities."
In 2009, Hinchey asserted that President George W. Bush had intentionally let Osama Bin Laden escape from potential capture, saying, "the previous administration... knew very well that if they would capture al Qaeda there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq."
Hinchey has consistently supported a pro-choice position on abortion issues. He was a cosponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which seeks federal protection of free access to women’s clinics and he has fought Republican attempts to reduce abortion rights. Hinchey is also a strong advocate for family planning programs, including the Title X program.
However, Hinchey is opposed to late-term abortions except where absolutely necessary to protect the health of the mother.
More Recent votes
Representative Hinchey has recently voted yes on H.R. 2433 Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011. This law will amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws relating to the employment and training of veterans, and for other purposes.
Hinchey, in August 2010, voted yes on the “Offshore Drilling and Other Energy Laws Amendments.” This regulates or controls the use of oil and natural gas. It also increases safety on blowout preventers on oil wells, as well as upping the penalty for leaking or spilling of oil or “other hazardous substances” into the Gulf of Mexico. He also voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in March 2010. This makes it illegal to dismiss someone from the army for being homosexual, having engaged in or suspected of engaging in “homosexual acts." Another bill that Hinchey voted yes on, the Aid to States for Medicaid, Teacher Employment and Other purposes, passed in the House in August 2010. This budgets $10 billion to the Education Jobs Fund to be given to the states for teacher hiring and training. It also increases Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) to states in need, and lengthens the period for states to increase their FMAP.
In November 2011, he voted to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto and "encourag[e] the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions."
Speeches and public statements
In a letter sent on November 10, 2010 to Jeffrey Zients, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Hinchey promotes the support of Job Corps. This program helps high-school dropouts find careers and receive their high school diplomas or GED’s. He asked Zients for increased federal funding for this recovery program in the 2012 budget.
On October 18, 2010, Hinchey held a Medicare forum to reassure seniors about provisions in the health care bill which would or would not change parts of Social Security and Medicare. He stated that the health care reform bill would increase the efficiency of Medicare; the Act would not cut into Medicare or social security funding.
Hinchey wrote a letter to President Barack Obama in October 2010 regarding Social Security. In the letter, he described to Obama how he believes social security is important and urged the President to increase its budget in the upcoming year.
Arctic offshore drilling
In May 2010, Hinchey, along with two other Progressive democrats, Lois Capps and Jay Inslee, began a petition to ask Obama to delay Shell from beginning exploratory drilling near Alaska. They wanted to understand the causes of the Gulf oil spills before Shell went ahead with Offshore drilling. Hinchey and the others were worried about the environmental effects if an accident were to occur; in the Arctic waters, a spill would not be contained as in the Gulf spill. Another priority is assuring that native communities would not be harmed; since they often depend on fish and marine life to sustain them, their resources would be vastly depleted if a spill happened.
Bush administration's warantless surveillance program
After the New York Times first disclosed the existence of the Bush administration's warantless surveillance program in late 2005, Hinchey was among the earliest members of Congress to criticize the program. Not long after, Hinchey—along with three other House Democrats—John Lewis of Georgia, Henry Waxman of California, and Lynn Woolsey of California—wrote the Justice Department, requesting an investigation to determine whether Bush administration violated any laws in authorizing and carrying out the program. As a result, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) commenced an investigation. It was later disclosed that the OPR investigation was closed down when President Bush himself refused to allow the Justice Department attorneys who were to conduct the investigation to have the necessary security clearances to conduct the inquiry. After a public outcry, President Bush capitulated and allowed the investigators to have their security clearances so that they could conduct the inquiry. The investigation, not continuing on into the second year of the Obama administration, has yet to be concluded.
In January 2012, Hinchey held a news conference at Senate House in Kingston, where he had announced his first run for Congress two decades earlier, to announce his retirement. "It's time for someone else", he told assembled reporters and activists. His illness and age had been factors, and he realized he had time and wanted to enjoy it.
He denied his decision to step down had anything to do with the state's pending redistricting, but did say that he wanted to make his intentions clear before the process was completed. His departure was seen as making it easier for the state's Democratic Party to decide which member of its congressional delegation would have to give up their district, since New York had to eliminate two of its seats that year.
In 1992, 28th District Congressman Matthew F. McHugh retired after 18 years in the House. Hinchey won the Democratic nomination for the district, which had been renumbered the 26th after New York lost three districts as a result of the 1990 census. He defeated Republican Robert Moppert, a county legislator in Broome County (which includes Binghamton), in the November general election by a 50% - 47% margin.
In 1994, Hinchey faced Moppert again in 1994. That was the midterm election in which the Republicans took control took over control of the House from the Democrats. Hinchey won re-election by only 1,200 votes.
Hinchey's district was significantly reconfigured when New York lost two Congressional seats after the 2000 census. Hinchey was threatened with dismemberment of his district or with having to run against a popular and well-established Republican incumbent, either Ben Gilman or Sherwood Boehlert. In the intense political infighting over the redistricting, however, Hinchey emerged as one of the winners. To protect two younger Republican incumbents, the Republicans agreed to sacrifice the district of the 79-year-old Gilman, who chose to retire. In return, the Democrats accepted a district that threw together two of their incumbents, Louise Slaughter and John LaFalce, prompting the latter's retirement. Hinchey's district was renumbered the 22nd and winds a narrow, contorted path across eight counties in the southern part of the state, from the Hudson River through the Catskills and Binghamton to Ithaca, connecting the most politically liberal parts of the Southern Tier and Borscht Belt regions. This gerrymandered configuration is similar to the former New York's 26th congressional district.
Hinchey has run in historically Republican areas throughout his career (his district was held by Republicans from 1915 until McHugh won it for the Democrats in 1975). He is best categorized as a progressive populist. For example, he was one of the first and most outspoken opponents of the 2003 war in Iraq, and one of only 11 co-sponsors of the Kucinich Resolution to impeach President Bush. He has bridged the ideological gap with a reputation for supporting many measures to improve integrity in government, by popular (in New York) advocacy of strong environmental protection, and by diligent constituent services. He is on the powerful Appropriations Committee, a post that helps him deliver federal support on programs important to his district.
On November 2, 2010 Hinchey was elected to his tenth term as Congressman for the New York State 22nd Congressional District, with a 52 percent to 48 percent margin over Republican George Phillips of Binghamton (99 percent of polling stations reporting).
On April 22, 2011, Hinchey's office announced that he was being treated for a curable form of colon cancer. A statement released by his office said that Hinchey would have surgery at the Albany Medical Center, receive treatment at the Ulster Radiation Oncology Center in Kingston, N.Y., and also undergo chemotherapy. The statement said that he would continue to work during his treatment. His doctors said that they expect a full recovery.
Maurice Hinchey has three grown children. He and his third wife, Allison Lee, live in Hurley, New York.
January 15, 2013