Bipartisan Taskforce Observes Holocaust Remembrance Day
WASHINGTON—Today, the co-chairs of the House of Representatives Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism issued the following statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah:
“On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we stand together in commemoration of the darkest chapter of human history—the Holocaust—which claimed 11 million lives, including 6 million Jews, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the promise of ‘never again.’
“Recently, anti-Semitism has fueled attacks on Jewish museums, markets, and synagogues in Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen, and here in the United States. We reassert our commitment to denouncing all anti-Semitic incidents, evaluating current law enforcement efforts to protect Jewish communities, and educating other Members on how we can—and must—respond to anti-Semitism at home and abroad.
“As co-Chairs of the Taskforce for Combating anti-Semitism, we frequently speak out against this ugly scourge as well as efforts to deny the Holocaust or rewrite history. On this Yom HaShoah, we rededicate ourselves to reinforcing our words with action. It is our duty to carry the mantle forward, educate our youth and keep the stories alive, ensuring that history will never repeat itself again—whether against Jews or any other people.”
The Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism is co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), Steve Israel (D-NY), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Ted Deutch (D-FL).Read More
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ros-Lehtinen Renews Fight for Holocaust Survivors
“As we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, I remain unyielding in my commitment to helping Holocaust survivors in South Florida, and across our nation.”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) made the following statement marking Holocaust Remembrance Day and the continuing fight for Holocaust survivors. Recently, Ros-Lehtinen and her colleague, Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-21), introduced a House Concurrent Resolution urging the German government to fulfill its moral responsibility to Holocaust survivors and urgently provide the financial resources necessary to ensure that survivors live in dignity and comfort in their remaining years. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“As we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, I remain unyielding in my commitment to helping Holocaust survivors in South Florida, and across our nation. Elie Wiesel’s quote ‘Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere’ reminds us of our duty to fight for those who suffered unimaginable cruelty during the Holocaust. As we honor those lost and impacted by this historic tragedy, we must renew our commitment to stand up against hatred and intolerance wherever they take root and redouble our efforts to shine a light on the suffering and harrowing experiences of Holocaust survivors to ensure that that this horrific chapter of human history will never be forgotten and will never be repeated.
I’ve joined with my colleague, Ted, to introduce House Concurrent Resolution 129 that urges the German government to step up and take care of all the needs of every survivor and urgently provide the financial resources necessary to ensure that survivors live in dignity and comfort. Through this resolution, my colleagues and I reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that the needs of Holocaust survivors are addressed and request that Germany make a financial commitment that would ensure every survivor may live out his or her life in dignity.”Read More
Ros-Lehtinen Hosts 2016 Congressional Art Competition Today, Monday, May 2
“As a former Florida certified teacher, I know that encouraging the next generation of South Floridians to be active in the arts adds another level of vibrancy to our community.”
Miami, FL – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) will host the 2016 Congressional Art Competition at her Miami district office (4960 SW 72 Avenue, Suite 208) today, Monday, May 2 at 5:30pm. Ros-Lehtinen hosts the annual Congressional Art Competition to showcase art created by high school students from Florida’s 27th Congressional district. The winner of the competition will have the work of art placed in the Capitol complex, runner-ups will have their works of art placed in Ros-Lehtinen’s Washington, DC and Miami offices.
WHO: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, high school students, parents, and faculty from the 27th District of Florida
WHAT: Congressional Art Competition
WHEN: Monday, May 2 at 5:30pm
WHERE: Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami district office, 4960 SW 72 Avenue, Suite 208
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“As a former Florida certified teacher, I know that encouraging the next generation of South Floridians to be active in the arts adds another level of vibrancy to our community. So many wonderful high school students have submitted works of art for this competition and each one deserves praise for creating an original piece. Miami’s burgeoning arts scene has become world-famous and I’m proud of each of these young artists.”Read More
Ros-Lehtinen y Colegas Presentan Proyecto de Ley Bipartidista Para Extender Sanciones Contra el Régimen de Maduro
“La corrupción, control absoluto del sistema judicial, y falta de respeto hacia las reglas democráticas por el régimen de Maduro han restringido seriamente los derechos humanos básicos de los venezolanos como la libertad de expresión y un proceso judicial justo, pero a pesar de esto no se está haciendo lo suficiente para sancionar a los oficiales responsables por estas violaciones.”
(Washington, DC) – La Congresista Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Presidente del Subcomité del Medio Oriente y África del Norte, se unió a los Congresistas Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), y Ted Deutch (D-FL) para presentar el H.R. 5134, un proyecto bipartidista que extenderá la autoridad del Presidente para sancionar a oficiales del régimen de Nicolás Maduro responsables por las continuas violaciones de derechos humanos sufridas por el pueblo venezolano. El proyecto de Ros-Lehtinen acompaña en la Cámara de Representantes al proyecto de los Senadores Marco Rubio y Bob Menéndez, que fue aprobado por el Senado el 28 de Abril. Ros-Lehtinen es la autora original del Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act of 2014, un proyecto bipartidista que fue aprobado por la Cámara de Representantes el 28 de Mayo del 2014. Su proyecto acompañante en el Senado fué convertido en ley el 18 de Diciembre del 2014.
“El régimen de Nicolás Maduro continúa sus violaciones graves y sistemáticas de derechos humanos en contra del pueblo de Venezuela. Estas violaciones incluyen el acoso, encarcelamiento, e intimidación de quienes se atreven a hablar en contra del régimen, la tortura y tratamiento inhumano a presos políticos, y los asesinatos con impunidad. La corrupción, control absoluto del sistema judicial, y falta de respeto hacia las reglas democráticas por el régimen de Maduro han seriamente restringido los derechos humanos básicos de los venezolanos como la libertad de expresión y un proceso judicial justo, pero a pesar de esto no se está haciendo lo suficiente para sancionar a los oficiales responsables por estas violaciones. Aunque la administración de Obama tiene más que suficientes evidencias en sus manos, sólo ha sancionado a unos cuantos oficiales venezolanos desde que esta legislación fuera aprobada. La Casa Blanca, puede y debe hacer más. Este proyecto extenderá la autoridad del Presidente para sancionar a oficiales del régimen de Maduro por tres años más. Yo exhorto al Presidente a sancionar a todos los oficiales responsables por las violaciones de derechos humanos en Venezuela lo antes posible.”
Para obtener acceso a una copia del proyecto, por favor haga click aquí.Read More
Ros-Lehtinen and Castor Lead Bipartisan Letter to Governor Scott Asking for More Information on HIV Reporting in Florida
“As a South Floridian, I understand how devastating this disease has been to our community and how important it is to make sure we utilize all the tools and resources available for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) led a bipartisan letter, along with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL), to Governor Rick Scott seeking information regarding how the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) records, reports, and revises new cases of HIV infections in the state.
Accurate HIV infection rate data is crucial to the effective development and deployment of public health strategies. It also informs the data-driven distribution of federal resources that our state relies upon to meet public health needs on HIV/AIDS prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. As a Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, Ros-Lehtinen has long championed the importance of thorough and transparent HIV/AIDS data reporting and analysis.
Earlier this year, FDOH has faced scrutiny regarding how the agency “deduplicates” new HIV infection data, and seemed to lack a clear and concise explanation for the revised figures.
Ros-Lehtinen is encouraged by the launch of FDOH’s new HIV Data Center. She is also hopeful that in considering the data necessary for answering all of the questions raised in the Congressional letter, FDOH can further develop the website as a national model for public health transparency and data reporting.
Statement from Ros-Lehtinen:
“As a South Floridian, I understand how devastating this disease has been to our community and how important it is to make sure we utilize all the tools and resources available for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. And as a Co-Chair for the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, I know how important accurate and transparent data reporting is for coordinating federal resources and agencies to most effectively engage in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It’s so vital to get this data right, and I welcome the initial steps FDOH is taking to ensure the public has access to the state’s data.”
Statement from Castor:
“Accurate public health information is vital to our neighbors. U.S. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, a national leader in fighting HIV/AIDS, and our congressional colleagues seek to get to the bottom of the state's questionable numbers. Floridians, especially those at risk for HIV/AIDS, deserve proper attention and care. We encourage the State of Florida to be more transparent, answer outstanding questions and remove the cloud that hangs over the dubious swings in reported HIV/AIDS infection rates."Read More
With South Florida Congressional Delegation, Ros-Lehtinen Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Extend Sanctions Against Maduro Regime
“The regime’s corruption, control of the judiciary, and lack of respect for the rule of law has severely restricted basic rights in Venezuela like freedom of expression and due process, yet not nearly enough is being done to sanction the responsible officials.”
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), along with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Ted Deutch (D-FL), introduced H.R. 5134, a bipartisan bill to extend the President’s authority to sanction Maduro regime officials for violating the human rights of the Venezuelan people. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s bill is a House companion to the Senate bill passed by Sens. Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez yesterday, April 28. Ros-Lehtinen first authored the bipartisan Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act of 2014 which passed the House of Representatives on May 28, 2014. Its Senate companion was signed into law on December 18, 2014.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“The Maduro regime continues to commit gross human rights violations against the Venezuelan people, harassing, jailing, and intimidating those who speak out against the regime, and subjecting prisoners to torture and inhumane treatment while killing with impunity. The regime’s corruption, control of the judiciary, and lack of respect for the rule of law has severely restricted basic rights in Venezuela like freedom of expression and due process, yet not nearly enough is being done to sanction the responsible officials. Despite more than enough evidence, the Obama administration has only sanctioned a mere few since the original legislation was passed and the White House can and must do better. This bill extends the President’s sanctions authority for another three years and I strongly urge him to sanction all Maduro regime officials responsible for human rights violations as soon as possible.”
For a copy of the bill, please click here.
Ros-Lehtinen to Visit Eagle Scouts and Dade County Farm Bureau BBQ this Saturday, April 30th
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to visit with Eagle Scouts and the incomparable Dade County Farm Bureau’s BBQ to speak about the issues that matter to our residents.”
Miami, FL – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) will be visiting two important South Florida groups this Saturday, April 30th.
Ros-Lehtinen will visit Boy Scout Troop 457’s Eagle Court of Honor at Kendall United Methodist Church (7600 SW 104 Street in Miami) at 4pm, and will be presenting flags flown over the Capitol to each member of the troop in recognition of their achievements. Ros-Lehtinen’s husband, Dexter Lehtinen, is a former Eagle Scout.
At 7:30pm, Ileana will also attend the Dade County Farm Bureau’s 38th Annual BBQ (500 North Krome Avenue in Florida City) honoring community activist Bob Epling at 7:30pm to discuss issues important to residents of South Dade. Ros-Lehtinen recently honored Mr. Epling with remarks delivered on the House Floor. To view the speech, please click here.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“South Florida is a diverse and unique community. I’m proud to have the opportunity to visit with Eagle Scouts and the incomparable Dade County Farm Bureau’s BBQ to speak about the issues that matter to our residents. I’ve known Bob for so many years and Dexter’s experience as a former Eagle Scout makes our connection to these two groups so much stronger. From Eagle Scout achievement to Farm Bureau recognition, our hometown always has so much to celebrate!”
Hezbollah and Iranian Influence in Lebanon Endangers U.S. Assistance and Regional Allies
“I’d also like to hear how the administration’s policy toward Lebanon fits in the larger picture with the fight against ISIS and the conflict in Syria, the Syrian humanitarian crisis and how we plan on ensuring that the spillover from Lebanon does not threaten our friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement today at a subcommittee hearing entitled, “U.S. Policy Toward Lebanon.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Two years ago this month, this subcommittee held a hearing on security challenges and U.S. interests in Lebanon with an administration panel represented by State’s NEA Bureau and DoD’s Middle East Policy Bureau. I opened that hearing by stating that Lebanon is a country that is seemingly perpetually in a state of conflict or on the verge of breaking out into a conflict at any moment. The same can be said about the country’s political stability – Lebanon is a country that is seemingly perpetually in a state of political crisis or on the verge of breaking out into a political crisis at any moment. We’re now two years deeper into the political deadlock that has gripped Beirut – the presidency has remained unfilled for nearly two years, while long overdue legislative elections have been pushed even further back to 2017 at the very earliest. The more things change, the more they stay the same in Lebanon.
Two years ago, Lebanon was struggling to cope with the economic strain of hosting over a million Syrian refugees who have fled to their neighbor seeking refuge from the fighting between Assad, Hezbollah, ISIS and other terror entities. These refugees would be the equivalent of roughly one quarter of the Lebanese population. Estimates suggest that over 3.3 million people in Lebanon are now in need of assistance. As has been the case throughout the region in response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, the U.S. has stepped up and to date has provided over $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance for Lebanon to help it cope with the strain of its refugee influx. However, as has also been the case throughout the region in response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, appeals for assistance to Lebanon have gone drastically underfunded and many of our partners and allies have failed to step up as needed. The American people are generous, they understand that there is a real need to support some of these nations struggling to cope with this large influx of refugees, but their generosity and understanding is not unlimited. The administration must do more to press other responsible nations to increase their contributions so that we don’t bear the full brunt of the cost.
Two years ago, Lebanon’s stability was a great concern for the United States. Hezbollah was fighting alongside Assad in Syria and the Syrian conflict threatened to spill over into Lebanon. Again, the more things change, the more they stay the same for Lebanon’s security and stability. However, now Lebanon has taken on an even greater strategic importance for the United States and for the entire region. This small country – trapped in a political stalemate for nearly two years now – has an increased significance and is one of the battlegrounds in the proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In the absence of any consensus on a way forward in the political deadlock, Hezbollah – aided and abetted by the Iranian regime – has moved to fill the leadership vacuum and increase its presence and influence in Lebanon. In the aftermath of the weak and dangerous Iranian nuclear deal, and even during the negotiations, Iran had increased its support to Hezbollah. Indeed, key to Iran’s strategic objectives in supporting Assad in Syria was maintaining the supply route from Damascus to Lebanon, which they have successfully managed, and reports even suggest that they may have accelerated the transfer of weapons – including strategic weapons systems – to Hezbollah through Syria.
More troubling still, it is apparent that Hezbollah has managed to gain sufficient influence in Lebanon to hinder its relationships with its Arab neighbors. In fact, in February of this year, the Lebanese Justice Minister resigned, explicitly citing Hezbollah’s undue influence and the harm it was causing to Lebanon’s relationships. That same month, Saudi Arabia led the Gulf Cooperation Council nations to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, with the Arab League shortly following suit. The Saudis, taking aim at Hezbollah and Iran again, also announced they were halting $3 billion in military assistance to Lebanon. No doubt the Saudis recognize that it is not just in the political sphere that Iran and Hezbollah have gained undue influence – Hezbollah has increased its presence within and partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
This synergy between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Hezbollah should really call into question, then, the administration’s continued support for the LAF and the President’s budget request that doubles the Foreign Military Financing assistance we provide to Lebanon. It is also worrisome that the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces is now currently in Moscow and will meet with Russian military officials to discuss coordination on anti-terror operations. A senior Russian official was quoted as saying that Moscow and Beirut are true partners in combatting terrorism worldwide. This is on the heels of the Czech Republic recently releasing, after refusing an extradition request by the U.S., two members of Hezbollah wanted in America on charges of planning to murder U.S. government employees and drugs and arms trafficking. At least one of these individuals is known to have had close ties to a notorious Russian arms dealer and is Russia’s link to Hezbollah.
So I’m interested in hearing the administration’s assessment of the relationship between Iran and Lebanon, and more specifically, Hezbollah and the LAF as well as Lebanon’s relations with its Arab neighbors, the nexus between Russia, Hezbollah and the LAF, as well as the prospects for Lebanon’s future stability. I’d also like to hear how the administration’s policy toward Lebanon fits in the larger picture with the fight against ISIS and the conflict in Syria, the Syrian humanitarian crisis and how we plan on ensuring that the spillover from Lebanon does not threaten our friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel.”Read More
Afghanistan’s Security, Stability and Success Are Critical U.S. Interests; Administration Needs to Commit Long-Term, Says Ros-Lehtinen
“It makes little sense to continue giving Pakistan billions of dollars if it’s going to continue to work against our interests. We must leverage our aid to Pakistan…that includes stopping the sale of F-16s”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement at a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “Advancing U.S. Interests: Examining the President’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
This hearing represents an important opportunity for both our subcommittees, allowing Members to provide appropriate and necessary oversight over the President’s budget request for Afghanistan and Pakistan, each of which fall under our different subcommittee jurisdictions.
This year, the President is requesting approximately $1.2 billion for Afghanistan and about $742 million for Pakistan in the foreign aid budget. For comparison’s sake, the combined request for these countries is about 77 percent of the overall request for the South and Central Asia region and about 4 percent of the entire foreign affairs request for this year. It is critical that Congress understands exactly where this money is going, whether we are getting a good return on our investment, and assess how we can ensure that these funds are helping achieving U.S. interests in the most effective way possible.
When I led a CODEL to Afghanistan in November 2015, I was struck by the positive changes President Ghani and CEO Abdullah have made since former President Karzai stepped down. Despite their differences, every official we met with said that Ghani and Abdullah are a vast improvement over Karzai and they have proven to be partners that are willing and able to cooperate with the United States while taking steps to root out corruption and stabilize their country.
But last week’s terrorist attack in Kabul is a sobering reminder of the challenges Afghanistan continues to face from the Taliban and other terrorist groups. While Afghan security forces have had some success since taking the lead last year, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and is responsible for most of last year’s 5,500-plus military casualties and 10,000-plus killed or wounded civilians. The Taliban is adapting to the Afghan military’s tactics, moving into new territory as it gets pushed out of others and using terrorism to inflict the kind of mass violence that we saw in Kabul. The Taliban is also adapting to our restricted rules of engagement, understanding the extremely limited situations when the U.S. actually does provide air support to the Afghan security forces, and adjusting their tactics accordingly.
When I was in Afghanistan in November, our troops did not have the authority to target ISIS, allowing it to grow in strength and numbers before the President finally authorized ISIS as a target earlier this year. The President needs to allow U.S. forces to target the Taliban as well and I urge the administration to provide the Afghan security forces with the close air support and surveillance assistance they so desperately need. It is extremely difficult to negotiate with an enemy who sees its position consistently improving and, as President Ghani said yesterday, the Taliban operates freely because Pakistan refuses to take action against it inside its borders.
Pakistan is a direct contributor to the Taliban’s success, not only allowing them to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven but providing it support inside Afghanistan’s borders. It makes little sense to continue giving Pakistan billions of dollars if it’s going to continue to work against our interests. We must leverage our aid to Pakistan so that it is a better regional partner with Afghanistan and also helps us root out terrorists within its borders. That includes stopping the sale of F-16s that Pakistan does not need and will probably not use in its supposed fight against terrorism.
We should instead be prioritizing assistance for Afghanistan, which, in addition to its security needs, continues to struggle with an enormous budget deficit, an economy almost entirely reliant on donor aid, and rampant and widespread corruption. With corruption still a significant issue, I continue to be concerned by our provision of on-budget assistance and question whether our aid is getting to the right places. Afghanistan has said it needs about $10 billion dollars donated each year until 2025 before it is self-sufficient, and I fear what will happen to Afghanistan’s economy once the donor fatigue that has already set in gets worse.
In addition, not enough attention is being paid to counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, which already accounts for 90 percent of the world’s heroin, and I am concerned that the administration’s decision to draw down resources in this area will enable a boom in poppy production if it hasn’t already. While I was in Afghanistan, our commanders on the ground told us that they do not have the authority to carry out counter-narcotics operations, and while DEA’s presence has been substantially reduced, INL’s footprint is also restricted due to the reduced DOD presence. The Afghan military does not have the resources to focus on counter-narcotics while it is concentrated on fighting the Taliban. So with all that said the question is: who is going to cover counter narcotics operations?
With the Afghan counter-narcotics chief declaring that no eradication will occur in Helmand Province this year due to the Taliban’s presence, the drug trade is poised to expand even more, fueling both the Taliban’s operations and Afghanistan’s massive addiction problem. In all of these areas, we need to be giving the Afghan government a chance to succeed, supporting it politically and providing it with the right kinds of security assistance while helping bolster its economy and redoubling our counter-narcotics efforts.
Afghanistan is an important ally in an important region of the world, and its security, stability and success are critical for U.S. interests – we must remain engaged for the long term.Read More
2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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