Henry Hyde to Retire from Congress

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Rep. Henry Hyde, a conservative stalwart of the House of Representatives, is set to announce that he will retire at the end of his current term. He was first elected in 1974.

Hyde ready to call it a career?

In a few weeks, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House International Relations Committee who as Judiciary Committee chief wielded the gavel during President Clinton’s impeachment, will announce that he will not seek another term. The public position of Hyde, 80, an icon of the conservative movement, is that he will make up his mind for sure in April. But I am told he has decided to retire and is unlikely to reverse course.


Hyde gained national notice in 1976, when the staunch abortion foe championed a provision banning federal funding for most abortions, a piece of legislation that became known as the “Hyde Amendment” that was attached to appropriation bills in the succeeding decades. As steadfast a conservative as Hyde is, he does not march lockstep with the movement. In 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s so-called Republican Revolution swept the House, Hyde opposed the term-limit plank that was part of the GOP’s “Contract with America” on the grounds that it denied voters the right to choose.

Hyde, when he was Judiciary chairman, also bucked the conservative tide when he backed legislation to require mandatory trigger locks on all guns, background checks for buyers of explosives and closing other gun sales loopholes. It was in his role as Judiciary Committee chairman during Clinton’s impeachment in late 1998 and early 1999 that Hyde’s white mane and portly profile became famous.

Thirty years is enough, methinks. The story goes on to survey the list of possible challengers. It appears quite likely that Hyde will be succeeded by another conservative Republican.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Time to bring out the old phone book to select his successor.

  2. Kappiy says:

    Maybe Illinois Republican star Alan Keyes will move out to the suburbs and run for Hank’s seat.

  3. Bachbone says:

    Let’s hope Hyde writes a book soon that names for us who, besides Trent Lott, shafted the House Managers of Clinton’s impeachment.

  4. McGehee says:

    Kappiy, I think picking a candidate out of the phone book would work better. 😉