- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) — Rep. Henry J. Hyde, the Illinois Republican who steered the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton and championed restrictions on government funding for abortion, announced yesterday that he will retire when his term ends in 2006.

Mr. Hyde, who serves as chairman of the House International Relations Committee, made the announcement on his Web site on his 81st birthday. He was first elected to the House in 1974 from his Bensenville district near O’Hare International Airport.

Mr. Hyde also serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which he chaired from 1995 to 2001.

Aides to Mr. Hyde did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday. Andrew McKenna, chairman of the state Republican Party, was unable to be reached for comment, his office said.

Fellow Illinois Rep. John Shimkus thanked Mr. Hyde for his years of service after the announcement.

“Congressman Hyde has been a standard-bearer for conservative principles, causes and beliefs,” Mr. Shimkus, a Republican, said in a written statement. “His leadership will be sorely missed on those fronts.”

Rep. Tom Lantos of California called Mr. Hyde a “respected, dedicated public servant” and a “good friend” in a statement.

“Although our opinions on some issues have differed from time to time, Henry has always been very straightforward with me when he knows we might disagree,” said Mr. Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee. “And once we have made our opinions known, and once the voting is done, it has never had an adverse effect on our relationship.”

Mr. Hyde grew up in Chicago as an Irish-Catholic Democrat, but by 1952 had switched parties and backed Dwight D. Eisenhower for president.

He first became a national figure when in 1976, during his second year in Congress, he sponsored a House measure that prohibited federal funding of abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Hyde amendment constitutional in 1980.

His national profile rose again in 1998, when he was the chief manager of the House impeachment case against Mr. Clinton.

“All a congressman ever gets to take with him when he leaves is the esteem of his colleagues and constituents, and we have risked that for a principle, for our duty as we have seen it,” Mr. Hyde said in closing arguments before the Senate in 1999. The Senate voted to acquit Mr. Clinton.

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