Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

FLORIDA's 27th DISTRICT

In Jordan, Boehner Delegation Discussions Focus on Iranian-Backed Violence, Growing Terrorist Threat

2015/03/30

In Jordan, Boehner Delegation Discussions Focus on Iranian-Backed Violence, Growing Terrorist Threat

AMMAN, JORDAN – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and a delegation of senior lawmakers met with His Majesty King Abdullah II on Sunday during a visit to Jordan where talks focused on Iranian-backed violence in the region and the growing terrorist threat.  

King Abdullah hosted the delegation for a luncheon at Beit al-Urdun Palace.  Lawmakers also met with U.S. Ambassador Alice Wells, Nasser Judeh, Jordan’s Foreign Minister, as well as senior embassy officials.

Discussions focused on two major trends in the region: the violence caused by Iran’s allies and proxies, and the spreading of the terrorist threat.  There was also shared concern regarding how the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program fit in the larger context of the security challenges in the region.

Speaker Boehner, who last met with King Abdullah at the U.S. Capitol in December 2014, issued the following statement on the delegation’s visit to Jordan:

“America’s ability to lead in the world depends on Jordan’s ability to remain a stabilizing force in the Middle East, and we could not ask for a more solid partner.  Every issue we addressed – and there were many – was underlined by mutual trust and respect.  We share the belief that defeating ISIL and stopping the spread of the terrorist threat will require a comprehensive approach. That means, in addition to security responses to the instability and violence, we have to improve our strategies to counter the economic and social drivers of radicalization. King Abdullah is a good friend to the Congress and the American people, and we are grateful to him and his people for welcoming us at such a critical hour.”

The delegation joining Speaker Boehner in the Middle East is made up of senior lawmakers charged with oversight of the United States’ efforts to defeat the terrorist threat and support our partners in the region:

·         Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is chairman of the House Education & the Workforce Committee and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

·         Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

·         Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East & North Africa and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  

·         Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, & Human Services, and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water.

·         Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction & Veterans Affairs.

           Rep. George Holding (R-NC) is a member of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

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Speaker Boehner & Senior Lawmakers Visit UK to Discuss Economic & Security Ties

2015/03/28

Speaker Boehner & Senior Lawmakers Visit UK to Discuss Economic & Security Ties

MANCHESTER, UK – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and a delegation of senior House lawmakers visited the North of England on Friday to meet with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and discuss opportunities to deepen the economic and security ties between the US and the UK.

Chancellor Osborne hosted the delegation for a working lunch at Peover Hall, which General George Patton and the Third Army used during World War II to plan and train for the Normandy breakout.  There, participants had a fruitful discussion on the state of the British economy, our shared efforts to defeat ISIL, and the importance of Western leadership in the world. 

The lunch was followed by a tour of the Wilmslow headquarters of the Waters Corporation, a US-based company that specializes in mass spectrometry systems. 

Speaker Boehner issued the following statement on the delegation’s visit:

“We are grateful to Chancellor Osborne for welcoming us to his constituency and giving us a chance to see up close the turnaround going on in the region, where American-based companies and British workers are teaming up every day.   It is a testament to the power – and potential – of our economic partnership, and whether it’s trade, energy, or manufacturing, there is no shortage of opportunities to deepen those ties.  Another vital concern our constituents know all too well is the threat of terrorism, and we discussed our shared efforts to support our allies and defeat ISIL.  Right now, as has so often been the case, it isn’t just American leadership that the world needs – it’s Western leadership, too.”

Speaker Boehner’s delegation in Manchester included the following lawmakers:

·         Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is chairman of the House Education & the Workforce Committee and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

·         Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

·         Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

·         Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, & Human Services, and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

·         Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water.

·         Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction & Veterans Affairs.

        Rep. George Holding (R-NC) is a member of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

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UN’s Annual “Bash Israel Day” Disgusting Reminder of Organization’s Bias, Destructive Effect on Human Rights

2015/03/26

UN’s Annual “Bash Israel Day” Disgusting Reminder of Organization’s Bias, Destructive Effect on Human Rights

“It is time for the United States to withdraw from and defund the UN Human Rights Council until it starts promoting and defending human rights with the highest standards, as it was meant to do”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement after the United Nations Human Rights Council met today to adopt four anti-Israel resolutions. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Today’s adoption of several anti-Israel resolutions illustrates the bias and anti-Semitic views at the United Nations. Once again, the UN Human Rights Council spends more time bashing Israel than on the massive and devastating atrocities and human rights abuses occurring around the world. With countries such as China, Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam, among the world’s worst human rights abusers, with seats on the council, it should come as no surprise.  The UN Human Rights Council ultimately has a corrosive impact on the millions suffering under repressive and murderous regimes and the United States must stop continuing to participate, fund, and lend its name to this dysfunctional organization. It is time for the United States to withdraw from and defund the UN Human Rights Council until it starts promoting and defending human rights with the highest standards, as it was meant to do.”

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Ros-Lehtinen Applauds Passage of Cong. Frederica Wilson’s Bill Naming New Miami FBI Office for Two Fallen Special Agents

2015/03/24

Ros-Lehtinen Applauds Passage of Cong. Frederica Wilson’s Bill Naming New Miami FBI Office for Two Fallen Special Agents

“The sacrifice of both special agents and their families is a testament to the ethos of service in our community.”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) applauded the passage of H.R. 1092, designating the FBI’s new Miami Field Office as the “Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office.” The FBI wanted to continue being housed in a building named for both special agents and has thus asked for their new building to also be named for Special Agents Grogan and Dove. In 1986, Special Agents Grogan and Dove were killed in the line of duty after they and other agents gave chase to two robbery suspects. The suspect’s vehicle was stopped in Ros-Lehtinen’s neighborhood of Pinecrest, Florida and both suspects began firing on law enforcement. During the five minute gun battle, the bloodiest in FBI history, Special Agents Grogan and Dove were killed. Five other agents, including the agent who killed the suspects, were injured and approximately 145 shots were fired during the exchange. Subsequently and as a result of this incident, law enforcement personnel began to be issued more powerful weapons. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“While scenes like these conjure the South Florida of yesteryear, all law enforcement officers know the dangers of protecting civilians. The sacrifice of both special agents and their families is a testament to the ethos of service in our community. Although nothing will bring these brave agents back, I am proud to have supported Cong. Frederica Wilson’s bill to name the FBI’s new Miami Field Office for them. It is just one way we can honor their service and sacrifice.”

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Administration’s Criteria for Verifying Iran’s Nuke Program is Naïve, Inadequate and Dangerous, Says Ros-Lehtinen

2015/03/24

Administration’s Criteria for Verifying Iran’s Nuke Program is Naïve, Inadequate and Dangerous, Says Ros-Lehtinen

“The only way we can ensure that Iran is in compliance with its IAEA obligations and is not paving the way toward a nuclear weapon is to fully dismantle its infrastructure”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled, “Iran’s Noncompliance with Its International Atomic Energy Obligations.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“This week marks the end of the second extension of the Joint Plan of Action. And though no final deal has been made as the negotiations continue, it is important to take stock of where we stand today versus where we stood on November 24, 2013 when the JPOA was formally announced. While Iran may have complied with some cosmetic aspects of the JPOA – reducing enrichment stockpiles, turning off some centrifuges – the fact remains that Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains entirely intact.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Iran hasn’t already violated the terms of the JPOA – a notion that is as preposterous as is Iran’s claim to a right of enrichment. The role of monitoring Iran’s nuclear program and verifying its adherence to the agreement falls on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and our intelligence community; Neither option inspires much confidence considering we’ve failed to detect Iran’s covert activity before, and we failed to detect nuclear activity in Syria and North Korea as well as in the past.

History has shown us that our intelligence assessments are not always perfect so we cannot allow Iran to even possess the capability to get a bomb, because we very likely could miss it if Iran makes the dash. Just last year, the Defense Department put out its own assessment that we do in fact lack the capability to detect covert nuclear sites in Iran, and wouldn’t be able to detect a move toward breakout. And it was before this subcommittee that General Hayden, former Director of the NSA and CIA, echoed that statement, saying as long as Iran continues to block access to its facilities, we wouldn’t be able to detect its development of a bomb. He then stated that if he were advising the President, unless Iran came clean about its past weaponization and PMD activities, he would be compelled to say the deal could not be adequately verified.

So that then leaves the lion’s share to the IAEA. The IAEA has a long history in Iran, but not nearly as long as Iran’s history of subterfuge and covert work on a nuclear weapons program. As a signatory to the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA since 1974, Iran was required to make accurate and complete declarations of all of its nuclear material and nuclear related activities to the IAEA. We know that Iran was in violation of this for decades, and in being in violation, had forfeited any claim it had to enriching uranium. Since 2003, we know that Iran has done everything it can to deceive, block and prevent the IAEA from gaining the access it needs to verify its nuclear program.

Iran has taken advantage of several rounds of negotiations to stall for time and has exploited loopholes and ambiguities to make advances in its nuclear program. And this latest attempt by the P5+1 is no different. Since November 24, 2013, as part of the JPOA, the IAEA has been working to get unresolved issues regarding Iran’s past, its work on nuclear weapons development, and other possible military dimensions (PMD) of Tehran’s nuclear program. Yet even as the negotiations continue, the IAEA reports that Iran has been unwilling to cooperate and is hindering its inquiries.

There are still at least a dozen outstanding questions the IAEA has about Iran’s PMD that Iran refuses to provide answers for, giving us more reason to suspect that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program for other than peaceful purposes. The JPOA sets a bar lower than had previously been established through a series of 6 UN Security Council resolutions. For a nation that has operated a covert nuclear program for decades and which continues to stonewall the most serious IAEA inquiries, we should have every reason to suspect that its activities extend further than what has been declared to date. Just a few weeks ago, it was reported that there may indeed be other covert sites that Iran has not previously declared; And that is why this nuclear deal is setting up to be a bad and dangerous deal – because it relies on something we cannot guarantee.

The only way we can ensure that Iran is in compliance with its IAEA obligations and is not paving the way toward a nuclear weapon is to fully dismantle its infrastructure. Because so long as that infrastructure is intact, Iran will always be able to make the decision to go for the bomb, and the IAEA or our intelligence community don’t have the ability, despite what President Obama guarantees, to detect it in time.”

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Administration’s Western Hemisphere Budget Proposal Fails to Prioritize Democracy, Governance and Human Rights, Says Ros-Lehtinen

2015/03/24

Administration’s Western Hemisphere Budget Proposal Fails to Prioritize Democracy, Governance and Human Rights, Says Ros-Lehtinen

“The administration must work harder to hold bad actors responsible, whether that is through increased pressure at international organizations, through bilateral relations, or additional sanctions and blocking of assets”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the State Department and Agency for International Development Funding Priorities for the Western Hemisphere.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“As we scrutinize the FY16 budget proposal for the Western Hemisphere, we must fully analyze how we are advancing U.S. interests in the region. While the administration may condemn human rights violations, attacks on the press, and biased judicial systems, it still continues to placate to rogue regimes in the Hemisphere who face zero consequences.

In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega is running for a third term after pushing through constitutional changes to allow consecutive re-elections in violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution. Ortega is using the facade of the canal project to be able to fund money to his own pockets and possibly expropriate lands along the canal. In December, the Nicaraguan people who live along the canal protested the project and were met with repression and violence at the hands of the Ortega regime.

Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales are already in their third terms after manipulating the legislatures and rewriting the constitution and election laws in their countries for their own political agenda. At the same time, Correa and Morales have kicked out USAID in their countries, causing USAID to be timid in closed societies throughout the Hemisphere and hurting its mission. Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner is currently being investigated for her possible involvement in covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing even as more questions arise surrounding the murder of Alberto Nisman. And in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro has run the economy almost completely into the ground while quashing dissent and violating the human rights of the Venezuelan people on a daily basis. Although Maduro and his thugs have finally been sanctioned by the administration, it only occurred because this committee and Congress strongly pushed for those punitive actions to be taken.

The common theme in all of these countries – other than the greed and corruption and thirst for power – is the manner in which these leaders have stayed in control and suppressed civil society. It is a playbook learned from Cuba – the same Cuba with which the President has reversed decades of US policy and given away almost all of our leverage in return for nothing. Dictators in the region have learned from and studied the methods of the Castro brothers. They’ve learned how to control the media and silence the opposition and they’ve learned how to impose their will by instilling fear in people. They’ve learned that elections – even corrupt and illegitimate elections – are often enough to appease the international community and for critics to look the other way, knowing that once they’re in power they can just change the rules of the game without consequences.

They know that the Organization of American States, despite its Inter-American Democratic Charter, will do nothing to hold them accountable. And they know that the Obama administration will continue trying to appease and engage, hoping that if they keep playing nice then maybe these tyrants will stop taking advantage of them. People in Latin America are crying out for the United States to finally stand up and say loudly and clearly that we know that leaders are manipulating the democratic process and are repressing fundamental human rights. And they want us to do everything in our power to hold those leaders accountable.

As we examine the budget, I am concerned that it does not reflect those priorities. Democracy and governance programs in Latin America are always on the chopping block when funds are needed at State and USAID – and this is unacceptable. In Central America, I question whether or not our embassies and host countries are prepared to handle such a large increase of funding from one fiscal year to another. In Cuba, I am concerned that the $20 million dollars requested by the administration will be undermined by the misguided normalization talks and the implementation of these democracy programs may be in jeopardy due to the demands from Havana. In Venezuela, which is desperately and increasing in need of assistance, I am concerned that the administration has not requested more resources to help civil society. In Haiti, with elections around the corner, I do not understand why we cut INCLE funds in half when so much assistance is needed for the Haitian National Police as we gear up for the upcoming elections.

We must ensure that we are funding priorities and addressing the root causes of problems throughout the Hemisphere on the governance and security fronts. Drug trafficking is a key piece of terrorist financing and we must have reliable partners who with we can work to disrupt narco-terror networks and transnational criminal groups. The administration must work harder to hold bad actors responsible, whether that is through increased pressure at international organizations, through bilateral relations, or additional sanctions and blocking of assets. And we should be stepping up our democracy and governance programs in response to regional challenges – rather than withdrawing when the going gets tough.”

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Members Launch the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism

2015/03/24

Members Launch the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism

(Washington, DC)  Today, U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Kay Granger (TX-12), Steve Israel (NY-03), Peter Roskam (IL-06), and Ted Deutch (FL-21) announced the launch of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives. Together, these Members will serve as co-Chairs of the Taskforce in the 114th Congress and spearhead initiatives aimed at addressing the alarming rise of anti-Semitism around the world.

The Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism was formed in order to ensure that Congress plays an integral role in condemning anti-Semitism and promoting tolerance worldwide.

The Taskforce will serve as a forum for educating Members on this distinct form of intolerance and to engage with the Executive Branch, foreign leaders, and civil society organizations for the sharing of best practices and cooperating on solutions to rebuff this disturbing trend. It will also promote Holocaust Remembrance in concert with exploring innovative ways to teach tolerance and confront hate.

The co-Chairs issued the following joint statement:

“Around the world, we are witnessing an alarming rise of anti-Semitism that is dangerous and complex. Over the past few years, Jewish schools, synagogues, and even homes and property have been targets of anti-Semitic violence. Jewish populations are facing increased levels of hatred, frequently under the guise of political differences or other alibis, but in reality it is solely because of their faith. It is the responsibility of everyone who believes in basic universal liberties and freedoms to condemn this trend and work together to root out the hatred which underlies anti-Semitism. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to find innovative solutions that match the 21st century face of this age-old bigotry.”

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Visita de Canciller Ruso a Latinoamérica Causa Preocupaciones; EEUU Debe Contrarrestar Creciente Influencia de Moscú y su Expansión en Nuestro Hemisferio, Dice Ros-Lehtinen

2015/03/23

Visita de Canciller Ruso a Latinoamérica Causa Preocupaciones; EEUU Debe Contrarrestar Creciente Influencia de Moscú y su Expansión en Nuestro Hemisferio, Dice Ros-Lehtinen

“De la llegada del buque espía ruso a la bahía de La Habana, hasta el continuo incremento de asistencia militar a Nicaragua, las actividades rusas en nuestra región socavan nuestra seguridad nacional.”

(Washington, DC) – La Congresista Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Presidente del Subcomité del Medio Oriente y África del Norte, hizo la siguiente declaración en la víspera de la visita del Canciller ruso, Sergei Lavrov a Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala y Colombia. Destacó Ros-Lehtinen:

"No es sorprendente que el régimen autocrático ruso esté trabajando para fortalecer sus relaciones con la Nicaragua de Ortega, la Cuba de Castro y otras naciones Latinoamericanas. Esta supuesta gira de buena voluntad no es más que una maniobra para aumentar su influencia en nuestra región. De la llegada del buque espía ruso a la bahía de La Habana, hasta el continuo incremento de asistencia militar a Nicaragua, las actividades rusas en nuestra región socavan nuestra seguridad nacional. Debemos continuar monitoreando y contrarrestando actividades rusas en Latinoamérica para asegurar que estas visitas diplomáticas no escondan otras actividades más nefastas.”

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Russian Foreign Minister’s Visit to Latin America Cause for Concern; U.S. Must Counter Moscow’s Growing Influence and Expansion In Our Hemisphere, Says Ros-Lehtinen

2015/03/23

Russian Foreign Minister’s Visit to Latin America Cause for Concern; U.S. Must Counter Moscow’s Growing Influence and Expansion In Our Hemisphere, Says Ros-Lehtinen

“From Russia docking a spy ship in Havana's harbor to an increase of military assistance in Nicaragua, Russia's activities in our region undermines our national security.”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the eve of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Colombia. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"It is not surprising that the autocratic Russian regime is working to strengthen ties with Ortega’s Nicaragua, Castro’s Cuba, and other Latin American nations. This supposed goodwill tour is nothing more than a play for more influence in our region. From Russia docking a spy ship in Havana's harbor to an increase of military assistance in Nicaragua, Russia's activities in our region undermines our national security. We must continue to monitor and counter Russian activities in Latin America to ensure that these diplomatic visits are not a cover for more nefarious activities.”

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The Obama Administration Contemplates Actions at the United Nations That Will Only Embolden the Palestinian Authority and Undermine the Peace Process, Says Ros-Lehtinen

2015/03/19

The Obama Administration Contemplates Actions at the United Nations That Will Only Embolden the Palestinian Authority and Undermine the Peace Process, Says Ros-Lehtinen

“The reason for the lack of progress on a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is because of the destructive actions of the Palestinian Authority that have undermined the peace process.”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding reports that the Obama administration may go to the U.N. Security Council to pressure Israel on the peace talks outside of direct negotiations. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“The reason for the lack of progress on a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is because of the destructive actions of the Palestinian Authority that have undermined the peace process. For over two decades now, the U.S., Israel, the Europeans and others have tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Palestinian leadership, only to get rebuffed at every single turn. Abu Mazen is now in his tenth year of a 5 year term as the leader of the Palestinian Authority, and in that time it has been his intransigence and unwillingness to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace as the Jewish State that has prevented progress towards a mutually agreeable resolution.

“Instead of threatening our closest ally with sanctions or suggesting that we will support the Palestinian initiatives at the UN, President Obama should be holding Abu Mazen accountable for reaching a unity government with Hamas, pushing a UN Security Council resolution instead of negotiating directly with the Israelis, joining the ICC, and threatening to end security assistance with Israel. Abu Mazen has never had any intention to reach an agreement with the Israelis, and has suffered no consequences from the Obama administration for his actions which have greatly undermined the peace process. The President’s time would be better spent using his bully pulpit to leverage a change in the Palestinian leadership than to press our ally into a bad and dangerous situation, but rest assured, Congress and the American people stand overwhelmingly with Israel and support its right to exist, to defend itself, and be recognized as the democratic Jewish State.”

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Contact Information

2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3931
Fax 202-225-5620
ros-lehtinen.house.gov

I am proud to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District, a diverse area which includes Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Hialeah, Key Biscayne, Little Havana, Miami, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Westchester.

I was born in Havana, Cuba on July 1952. At the age of eight, my family and I were forced to flee from the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro. We settled in Miami and put down permanent roots in our community. I attended Southside Elementary School in Little Havana, West Miami Junior High, and Southwest High School. In the years following, I earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004. I consider education a lifelong journey.

I began my career as a Florida certified teacher. I also founded and served as the principal and teacher of a private bilingual elementary school in Hialeah. I was inspired to enter public service by many of the parents and students; to fight on their behalf for a stronger educational system, lower taxes, and a brighter economic future.

In 1982 I was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. In the state legislature I authored the Florida Prepaid College Plan, which is now the largest pre paid college tuition program in the nation. More than one million Florida families have used this program to send their children to college.

I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989– the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress–following a special election to fill the seat held by the late Claude Pepper. I have been strongly returned to Congress since, winning 60% of the vote in 2012.

To this day, I remain committed to improving the lives of my constituents and our beautiful South Florida community. As the economy remains a pressing issue, I support reducing taxes and cutting back unnecessary government spending. I also support plans to balance the federal budget and increase tax incentives for small businesses and middle class families. South Florida has also felt the devastating effects of the housing crisis. I have fought to end predatory lending practices by mortgage companies and extend the first time homebuyers tax credit.

Given my background in education, I have worked to strengthen the Head Start program. I have also supported legislation to increase the availability to student financial aid and revise the cumbersome and complicated Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) process.

I am a strong advocate of programs that address the serious problem of domestic violence against women. I was a lead sponsor of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which increases resources towards the prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. I also support legislation to increase criminal penalties for perpetrators of Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud is a deplorable practice which robs hardworking seniors of the benefits they spent a lifetime earning, while also wasting billions in taxpayer dollars.

As the wife of a Vietnam veteran and step-mother to Marine aviators, I am passionate about improving our nation’s military, safeguarding veteran’s health care, and ensuring that returning veterans have access to a college education. I have been an outspoken critic of the Miami VA’s recent failures to notify veterans who were at risk of infection, due to contaminated colonoscopy equipment. I also authored legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pioneers had been denied recognition for their service during World War II.

I am Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and am now Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In this role, I continue to voice my strong support for the state of Israel and human rights, including my opposition to Castro’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. I have also led on pressing foreign policy issues including the fight against Islamist extremism, and support of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

I also serve as a member of the House Committee on Rules. This Committee decides what legislation makes it to the House floor and its members are chosen by the Speaker of the House. My priorities as a member of this Committee is to get our nation’s economy back on track and ensure passage of legislation that betters the state of our nation.

I am the proud wife to Dexter Lehtinen, mother and step-mother to 4 adult children, and grandmother to two beautiful baby girls – Morgan Elizabeth and Caroline Grace.


Serving With

Jeff Miller

FLORIDA's 1st DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT

Ander Crenshaw

FLORIDA's 4th DISTRICT

Ron DeSantis

FLORIDA's 6th DISTRICT

John Mica

FLORIDA's 7th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Daniel Webster

FLORIDA's 10th DISTRICT

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

Gus Bilirakis

FLORIDA's 12th DISTRICT

David Jolly

FLORIDA's 13th DISTRICT

Dennis Ross

FLORIDA's 15th DISTRICT

Vern Buchanan

FLORIDA's 16th DISTRICT

Tom Rooney

FLORIDA's 17th DISTRICT

Curt Clawson

FLORIDA's 19th DISTRICT

Mario Diaz-Balart

FLORIDA's 25th DISTRICT

Carlos Curbelo

FLORIDA's 26th DISTRICT

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