Henry J. Hyde (born April 18, 1924), American politician, has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1975, representing the 6th District of Illinois (map). He was born in Illinois, attended Duke University, graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and obtained his law degree from Loyola University. He also served in the United States Navy during World War II where he served in the South Pacific, New Guinea and in combat in the Philippines until August of 1946. He went on to serve in the Naval Reserve from 1946 to 1968, where he retired at the rank of Commander, after serving as officer in charge of the U.S. Naval Intelligence Reserve Unit in Chicago. He was also a lawyer before entering the House. He was married to Jeanne Simpson Hyde from 1947 until her death in 1992; he has four children and four grandchildren.
The US Vice-Chairman of the Atlantic Partnership, Hyde is one of the most senior Republican members of the House. From 1985 until 1991, Hyde was the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. He has also been one of the most vocal and persistent opponents of abortion law liberalization in American politics, and was involved in some of the highest level debates concerning the response to the events of September 11, 2001. Since 2001 he has served as chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
Hyde grew up as a Democrat in an Irish Catholic family, but by 1952 had switched party affiliation and supported Dwight Eisenhower. He went on to become a state legislator and majority leader for the Illinois house of representatives. A member of the House Judiciary Committee since 1975, Hyde served as its chairman from 1995 until 2001, at which time he served as the lead House manager during the President Clinton impeachment trial. Hyde maintains that the House was constitutionally bound to impeach Clinton for perjury.
As Hyde was publicly pursuing the impeachment of Clinton, the Internet magazine Salon.com published a story about Hyde entitled "This Hypocrite Broke Up My Family." According to the story, from 1965 to 1969, Hyde conducted an extramarital sexual affair with Cherie Snodgrass. At the time, Snodgrass was married to another man with whom she had had three children. The Snodgrasses divorced in 1967. The affair ended when Snodgrass' husband confronted Mrs. Hyde. The Hydes reconciled and remained married until Mrs. Hyde's death in 1992. The Snodgrasses remarried in 1969 but re-divorced shortly thereafter. Although Hyde was 41 years old and married when the four-year affair began, he dismissed it as one of his "youthful indiscretions."
As the current chairman of the House International Relations Committee, of which he has been a member since 1982, Hyde and the Committee's senior Democrat, U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), authored America's worldwide response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in 2003 and landmark foreign assistance legislation creating the Millennium Challenge Corportation and expanding U.S. funding for successful micro-enterprise initatives. During his long career, he has also been involved in crucial debates over U.S.-Soviet relations, Central America policy, the War Powers Act, NATO expansion, the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair, and, most recently, sponsorship of a bill that ties payment of U.S. dues for United Nations operations to efforts mandating reform of the institution's management. An original sponsor of the Brady Bill requiring background checks for gun buyers, Hyde broke with his party in 1994 and supported a ban on the sale of semi-automatic firearms. An original sponsor of family leave legislation, Hyde said the law promoted "capitalism with a human face."
He is currently in disagreement with his party on the Iraq War:
"Lashing our interests to the indiscriminate promotion of democracy is a tempting but unwarranted strategy, more a leap of faith than a sober calculation. There are other negative consequences as well. A broad and energetic promotion of democracy in other countries that will not enjoy our long-term and guiding presence may equate not to peace and stability but to revolution."
- Representative Hyde, "Perils of the Golden Theory" speech in Congress on February 26, 2006
Over the years the demographics of Hyde's DuPage County have shifted, leading his 2004 Democratic challenge Christine Cegelis to garner over 44f the vote, the highest total of any of Hyde's opponents. Hyde announced his retirement after the current term expires in 2007. In 2005, Hyde announced he would be endorsing State Senator Peter Roskam to fill his open seat. Roskam's Democratic challenger is Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.