Maurice D. Hinchey is a progressive Democrat representing New York's 22nd Congressional District, which spans eight counties from the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes region. Now serving in his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hinchey is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which allocates funds in the federal budget. On that panel, he serves on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and the Subcommittee on Defense. Hinchey is also a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Additionally, the congressman is one of only 20 members on the bicameral Joint Economic Committee. The congressman also serves on the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Prior to coming to Congress in January 1993, Hinchey served 18 years in the New York State Assembly, including 14 years as Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation.
Early in his first year in Congress, Hinchey initiated and led the successful effort to preserve Sterling Forest, the last significant area of open space in the New York metropolitan region and an important watershed for southeastern New York and northern New Jersey. He also introduced and saw enacted legislation to create the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the first federal action formally recognizing the fundamentally significant role the people of the Hudson Valley played in the early development of America and its institutions.
As a member of the House Banking Committee, Hinchey's pointed and persistent questioning of Alan Greenspan forced the Federal Reserve Board Chairman to admit to the existence of taped recordings of the meetings of the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), the board's policy making body. As a result, the public now has, for the first time, direct insight into the thinking of the FOMC and the logic behind the decisions affecting interest rates and other important economic policies.
On the Appropriations Committee, Hinchey has been a strong advocate for the integrity of American agriculture, focusing on protecting the family farm and the safety of the food supply. He continues to be a firm and effective defender of America's natural resources, especially our national parks and wilderness areas. Hinchey is the author of legislation that would designate more than nine million acres of federal land in southern Utah as permanent wilderness, thereby protecting some of the nation’s most spectacular landscapes, rare pictographs and fragile lands. He has also led the battle to protect the integrity of the Smithsonian Institution from crass commercialization.
In 1997 Hinchey and the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote and passed legislation re-designating New York's Route 17 as Interstate 86, which could bring an additional $3.2 billion in increased economic activity to the Southern Tier and Catskills regions. When the legislation was passed, Hinchey secured more than $17 million in needed upgrades for the highway and led a community lobbying effort to convince New York State to complete the project quickly. He has used his position on the Appropriations Committee to ensure maximum federal funding for this important project.
In 1999 Hinchey wrote an amendment to intelligence reauthorization legislation that forced the declassification of documents that revealed the active role the Nixon Administration --especially Henry Kissinger-- played in the illegal overthrow of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, in 1973. He was one of the first and most outspoken opponents of the 2003 war in Iraq. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East, Asia, Northern Africa and Europe.
Hinchey began his 18-year tenure in the New York State Assembly in 1975. He was the first Democrat elected to the state legislature from Ulster County since 1912, and only the second since the Civil War. He became Chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee in 1979. Under his leadership, the committee conducted a successful investigation into the causes of "Love Canal," the nation's first major toxic dumpsite, and developed landmark environmental legislation including the nation's first law to control acid rain. Between 1982 and 1992, Hinchey led an investigation into organized crime's control of the waste-hauling industry that led to the conviction of more than 20 criminal figures. He successfully led the fight --first in Albany and later in Washington-- to force the cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson River. During his tenure in Albany, he was responsible for the development of the statewide system of Urban Cultural Parks (now called Heritage Areas), including those in Kingston and Binghamton. Hinchey is the author of the act that created the Hudson River Valley Greenway. He also served on the Ways and Means, Rules, Banks, Health, Higher Education, Labor, Energy and Agriculture committees.
Born on Manhattan's Lower West Side in 1938 and raised there and in Saugerties, New York, Hinchey enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school graduation, serving in the Pacific on the destroyer U.S.S. Marshall. After receiving an honorable discharge, he worked for two years as a laborer in a Hudson Valley cement plant. Hinchey then enrolled in the State University of New York at New Paltz and put himself through college working as a night-shift toll collector on the New York State Thruway. He went on to earn a master's degree at SUNY New Paltz and did advanced graduate work in public administration and economics at the State University of New York at Albany.
Hinchey is the father of three children. He and his wife, Allison Lee, make their home in Hurley, New York.