April 24, 2011

After Diagnosis, Doctors Hopeful Rep. Hinchey Will Defeat Cancer

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Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who represents New York’s 22nd Congressional district, which includes Ithaca, announced Friday that he was diagnosed with colon cancer.Hinchey’s doctor reported that the cancer is curable and that Hinchey is currently receiving radiation treatment, according to a press release from the Congressman’s office. He will undergo surgery during June’s congressional recess.Hinchey plans to maintain a full workload and continue to vote on legislative bills, his press office stated. Elected to the House in 1992, Hinchey has long had ties to Cornell.Stephen Johnson, vice president for government and community relations, recalled his personal ties to Hinchey and Cornell’s history of working closely with the Representative, including monthly meetings in Washington, D.C., and frequent phone calls.“I go way back with Maurice,” Johnson said. “I worked with him when he served in the New York State Assembly [in the 1980s].”Staff members in Cornell’s Office of Government Affairs are worried about the Congressman’s illness but remain optimistic that Hinchey will fully rebound.“We’re concerned, but we’re expecting that he’ll be making a full and complete recovery,” Johnson said. “It’s always a concern that someone we work closely with faces a health challenge. I was sorry to learn of Maurice’s announcement.”Some campus political observers seemed worried.

“He’s spoken to Cornell Democrats before,” Terry Moynihan ’11, president of the Cornell Democrats said. “He’s a great public servant and a strong progressive — he really fights for Cornell students on loan issues.”

Regarding the news of Hinchey’s cancer, Moynihan said, “we obviously wish him a very swift recovery.”Cornell relies on Hinchey to fight for additional funding and for clout in budget negotiations, Johnson said. He called Hinchey a “believer in higher education.”“He’s a strong supporter of student financial aid, and he believes in the value of university research,” Johnson said. “He is a believer in federal research and cooperative extension as worthwhile investments.”Johnson added that Hinchey has worked on several recent projects that benefit Cornell, including President David Skorton’s Humanities Initiative, funding for new agriculture research facilities at Cornell and the protection of the Federal Pell Grants Program from congressional budget cuts.But Johnson added that the federal budget — which was signed into law on April 15 —  ultimately cut funding for the proposed agricultural research facilities, something that Hinchey vigorously opposed.According to Johnson, when Cornell faculty and students travel to Washington, D.C., for lobbying on social or political issues, Hinchey’s office is always amenable to scheduling a meeting.“The old saying is true — all politics are local,” Johnson said. “But almost any Cornell student or faculty group that goes to Washington touches base with our hometown representative and his staff.”

Original Author: Max Schindler