Ros-Lehtinen, Engel, Cook, Sires Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Violence, Repression in Nicaragua; Calls on Administration to Impose Sanctions on Regime Officials
“This resolution empowers the Administration to go further to identify and sanction those who have engaged in acts of oppression in accordance with our laws” Says Ros-Lehtinen
“The United States will not stand idly by while Ortega’s henchmen continue to kill unarmed protestors, restrict the free press, and line their pockets” Says Sires
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, along with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), introduced H.Res. 981 condemning the intimidation, violence, persecution, and murders committed against the people of Nicaragua by the Ortega regime. This resolution expresses the U.S. House of Representatives’ full and unequivocal support for the Nicaraguan people in the face of unceasing violence in their nation as they bravely assert their democratic rights. It also urges the Administration to identify regime officials who qualify for the imposition of sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Statement by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: “As so many Nicaraguans exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, the violence in Nicaragua continues unabated with almost 300 people killed at the hands of the Ortega regime. This bipartisan resolution further demonstrates that the U.S. is paying close attention to the abuses of Ortega and his henchmen, and that we stand in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people in exercising their God-given rights, and calling for the reestablishment of democratic order. Though the State Department has rightfully imposed visa restrictions to some of Ortega’s puppets, this resolution empowers the Administration to go further to identify and sanction those who have engaged in acts of oppression in accordance with our laws.”
Statement by Rep. Sires: “The Ortegas have consolidated power in the hands of their family and close confidants at the expense of Nicaraguan citizens. This latest campaign of targeted attacks on peaceful protestors and media outlets is just a further progression of Ortega’s dissent into authoritarianism. The United States will not stand idly by while Ortega’s henchmen continue to kill unarmed protestors, restrict the free press, and line their pockets through corruption schemes. I support the Nicaraguan people who are working diligently to break free from Ortega’s autocratic grip. This resolution reaffirms that Congress hears the voices of the Nicaraguan people and stands with them in solidarity as they continue to fight for their human rights.”
Note: On June 5, 2018 Ros-Lehtinen led a bipartisan, bicameral letter asking the Administration to determine whether Francisco Lopez, head of ALBANISA, and Francisco Diaz, Deputy Commissioner of the National Police and de facto Director, meet the criteria to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. Joining Ros-Lehtinen were Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Michael Conaway (R-TX), and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). On July 5, 2018 the Administration announced it was designating three Ortega regime officials under Global Magnitsky including Lopez and Diaz.
Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Open Child Immigration Detention Facilities to Swift Inspection by Congress
(Washington, D.C.) – The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy resulted in hundreds of immigrant children being forcibly separated from their parents and detained in facilities that Members of Congress and the press were initially blocked from inspecting. Amid troubling allegations that some detained children are suffering abuse, denying swift access to inspect these facilities is unacceptable.
To ensure that oversight access is not limited, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) has joined with Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1), and 12 other Members of the House of Representatives in co-sponsoring the bipartisan Congressional Access to Children's Detention Facilities Act. This legislation would allow Members of Congress to visit the facilities during reasonable hours, and also ensure press access, by allowing media to accompany them on these essential inspections.
The legislation is a House companion to Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) bill, and would ensure that the constitutional duty to conduct federal government oversight is protected. Unfortunately, dozens of Members of Congress have wrongly been denied access to these facilities over the last several weeks. This legislation would ensure that never happens again.
“To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Brandeis, sunshine is the best disinfectant,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “After Members of Congress have been denied entry at various facilities housing children separated from their parents at the border, I joined my colleague Debbie in introducing this bill which will ensure that the people’s representatives and the press are able to visit these facilities, speak to care-givers, and ensure the U.S. is taking every step to ensure the safety and security of the innocent children. Members of Congress should never be denied access when exercising their constitutional oversight role.”
“The American people were horrified by the separation of immigrant children from their parents, and to think these children would suffer further indignities under the care of our government is deeply disturbing,” Wasserman Schultz said. “On my initial attempt to visit a South Florida migrant child facility, Trump Administration officials wrongly prevented me from entering. I know many of my colleagues have faced similar obstacles in carrying out their oversight roles. Elected representatives must be able to inspect the conditions and treatment of these vulnerable innocents, and members of the press must be able to accompany them to ensure that the American people can be fully informed about how children are being treated with their tax dollars. It’s not just constitutional oversight that is in jeopardy when this does not occur. Children’s lives are at stake.”
“The responsibility to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch is one of Congress’s fundamental roles,” said Shea-Porter. “Oversight is a necessary function of our democracy that ensures the checks and balances our founders envisioned remain strong. Without access to Federal facilities, it is not possible to do proper oversight. I am concerned that dozens of Members of Congress have been denied this essential access when they attempt to fulfill their Constitutional duties. This is unacceptable. We must be granted access to facilities where migrant children are being held because both we and the public must know how our government is treating the children in its care. Without this information, we cannot do our jobs and ensure that children are being treated with dignity and cared for appropriately.”
House Approves Ros-Lehtinen’s North Korea Human Rights Bill, Sending to President’s Desk
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement today after the House of Representatives approved her bill, H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, by unanimous consent after it was amended and passed in the Senate, sending it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Introduced alongside U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), the respective Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, H.R. 2061 was first approved by the House on September 25, 2017 and by the Senate on April 24, 2018.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“The Kim regime’s despicable treatment of the North Korean people should not and must not be ignored. North Koreans suffer from some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable, including the starvation and torture of political opponents, and this brutal and dangerous behavior must be taken into account during any negotiation. In its pursuit of a landmark deal with Pyongyang, the administration may allow human rights to fall on the priority list, but with Congress sending this bill to the President’s desk, we have demonstrated that we will not allow human rights conditions in North Korea to go ignored. Congress has a long history of shining a light on North Korean abuses and promoting the work of human rights in that nation. These issues must not ignored or dealt with separately and any deal that is reached must include a substantial human rights component.”
NOTE: H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, will extend until 2022 the authorities of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which were last reauthorized and strengthened in 2012 and 2008, laws also authored by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. The Senate companion, S.1118, was introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Chris Coons (D-DE). The bill continues current authorities for North Korea-focused activities to promote human rights and democracy, refugee protection, and freedom of information (including broadcasting), as well as a report by a U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues. It also continues reporting aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for any humanitarian assistance provided to North Korea.
Reps. Ros-Lehtinen, Murphy, and Pocan Honor LGBT Job Creators During Pride Month
U.S. Congresswoman Murphy authors bipartisan resolution to recognize the contributions of LGBT entrepreneurs and small business owners
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Stephanie Murhpy, D-Fla., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., today introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) entrepreneurs and small business owners to our nation’s economy. Murphy, Ros-Lehtinen, and Pocan introduced the resolution in honor of LGBT Pride Month, which takes place each June and celebrates the LGBT community in the United States and around the world.
According to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, there are an estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses across the United States operating in a wide variety of industries, including consulting, marketing, construction, legal services, and defense contracting. These businesses contribute more than $1.7 trillion to America’s economy. Since 2004, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) has been providing LGBT certification to businesses that are at least 51% LGBT-owned, managed or operated. These LGBT-certified companies report an average of $2.5 million in annual revenues. By comparison, a 2017 report by the National Small Business Association found that less than 40 percent of small businesses reported revenues greater than $1 million.
“LGBT entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of so many communities across our nation,” said Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “Stephanie, Mark, and I are proud to recognize the contributions of these individuals who are job creators and move our economy forward. Our country is strengthened when every profession reflects our national character.”
“I’m excited to join my constituents in celebrating Pride Month and to give credit where credit is due,” said Murphy, a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “For years, LGBT entrepreneurs and business owners have worked hard to strengthen our economy and enrich our communities. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Pocan to shine a light on the many contributions of our nation’s LGBT job creators.”
“LGBT-owned businesses play an important role in our nation’s economy, driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth,” said Pocan, a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and the only LGBT-certified small business owner serving in Congress. “This Pride Month, we should all celebrate the diversity of our nation’s economy and continue working to break down the barriers to success that hold back LGBT-owned businesses. I’m proud to introduce this resolution along with Congresswomen Murphy and Ros-Lehtinen, and make clear our commitment to ensuring that our economy is open and inclusive for all entrepreneurs.”
"We are so pleased that this resolution affirms what we have observed at NGLCC since our founding nearly twenty years ago: that America’s LGBT business owners are driving our economy ever upward and deserve every opportunity to keep creating jobs and innovating our industries that benefit all Americans,” said National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson and Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell in a joint statement. “The estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners NGLCC advocates for and certifies as LGBT Business Enterprises have truly earned a place at the table of opportunity in both the public and private sectors. We thank Representatives Stephanie Murphy, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Mark Pocan for their leadership, and to all Members of Congress who believe in a fully inclusive economy that celebrates the diversity of America.”
Ros-Lehtinen Applauds Administration Decision To Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council
“For far too long, the Council has been a platform used by the world’s worst human rights violators to shield themselves from criticism of their abysmal records while attempting to isolate and delegitimize the democratic Jewish State of Israel”
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States’ membership from the UN Human Rights Council. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“It’s long past due, but today’s decision by the Administration to withdraw the United States from the UN’s Human Rights Council is welcome news. For far too long, the Council has been a platform used by the world’s worst human rights violators to shield themselves from criticism of their abysmal records while attempting to isolate and delegitimize the democratic Jewish State of Israel. As long as the body’s representation includes countries like Cuba, Venezuela, China, or other governments that actively work against what the Council is supposed to promote and support, and as long as it continues to push an anti-Israel bias and an anti-American agenda, the United States should not legitimize it with our presence. The Council lost its credibility long ago and it has a long way to go and numerous reforms to undertake before it can begin to repair that reputation. And until we see those reforms, the United States should not waste hard earned taxpayer dollars by being a part of such a sham.”
NOTE: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is the author of H.R. 2232 – Promoting Equality and Accountability at the United Nations Act of 2017. Among its provisions, the bill would prohibits U.S. funding, in any form, to be made available for the UNHRC or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights )OHCHR) until the Secretary of State makes certain certifications, including but not limited to: (1) U.S. participation in the UNHRC is in the national interest of the U.S.; (2) Permanent agenda item 7 is removed from the Council’s agenda; and, (3) that the UNHRC membership has certain standards for membership. The bill also states that it is the sense of Congress that the U.S. should use its voice, vote and influence at the UN to ensure that the UNHRC removes agenda item 7 and meets certain requirements for membership to the body and that it is shall be the policy of the U.S. to take steps to repeal the UNHRC Resolution that created the database, commonly referred to as the “blacklist,” of entities involved with “settlements” and to mitigate the potential damage to Israel’s economy as a result of the database.
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Ros-Lehtinen Presses Administration on Budget and Strategy for Protecting U.S. Interests in Middle East and North Africa
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommitee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled “The Middle East and North Africa: Ensuring Resources Match Objectives.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen (as prepared for delivery):
“This is now the sixth time Ted and I have convened this particular hearing, conducting oversight over the President’s budget request. It is often difficult to know if the request matches the objective because we are often presented with broad or generic policy objectives, rather than strategies to achieve those objectives. And this year’s budget request for the Middle East and North Africa is no different.
Earlier this year, then Secretary of State Tillerson laid out the Administration’s vision for Syria. I don’t think many of us would disagree that it had five laudable objectives. Likewise, just a few weeks ago, Secretary Pompeo laid out 12 objectives in our counter-Iran plan. But I think it is safe to say that these both were policy objective-heavy and short on strategy – that is to say, they were lacking details on how we were going to accomplish these objectives. This makes it extremely difficult for us, as policy makers and Members tasked with oversight to ensure taxpayer dollars are used effectively and efficiently, to really know if the Administration is requesting adequate resources to carry out its strategy.
It’s also difficult for us to get a full accounting of the support we provide to the Middle East and North Africa, given the many different mechanisms and accounts being used to provide our assistance to conflict areas and humanitarian crises in the region. In Iraq, in Syria, in Jordan and in Yemen, there is a great need for U.S. leadership and U.S. assistance. There are old threats, there are new threats and there are emerging threats that can destabilize the region and damage our interests as well. But this budget request seems like it does not go far enough to match the priority and threat to our national security with the resources allocated.
In Syria, the budget request seems to fall short of Tillerson’s stated objectives. And that’s before you take into account the fact that the Administration has put a hold on $200 million for Syria stabilization efforts until it completes a review. I’m all for getting partner nations to increase their share of contributions, but in the meantime, we are losing critical time and we are certainly not making progress on our Syria objectives if we aren’t providing our assistance.
Likewise, I remain very concerned over our continued request for assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) despite very real concerns regarding Hezbollah’s influence - $50 million in this year’s request. With Hezbollah and its allies making gains in last month’s elections, it doesn’t make sense to continue to push the narrative that we are supporting the LAF as a counterweight to Hezbollah. Instead of having used our assistance for Lebanon wisely – with programs aimed at decreasing Iran and Hezbollah’s influence before the elections – our Embassy in Lebanon cut critical programs, perhaps out of fear of upsetting the status quo.
And because of that, we will certainly need the Administration’s request for $3.3 billion in foreign military financing for Israel, as it faces an increased and more aggressive Iranian posture on its borders, and many of these other emerging threats. So I applaud the Administration for standing strong with Israel and in understanding the sheer magnitude of the threats that our closest friend and partner, the democratic Jewish State of Israel faces.
I do, however, question the Administration’s decision to keep the PLO office open. I’ve been trying to get an answer on the status of the PLO office ever since November when the waiver lapsed, which should have forced it closed. I spoke briefly with Ambassador Satterfield about this yesterday, but Congress and the American public deserve to know why the Administration is allowing the PLO office to remain open. I joined Senator Cruz in sending a letter to the Secretary laying out specific questions, and it is my hope that we get a full, public response – there is no reason why the Administration should keep this information to itself.
Moving to Jordan, I also applaud the Administration for meeting the agreed number as stipulated by our latest Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The numbers reflect the need to ensure Jordan remains stable and secure – however, I do hope that the Administration sees the current situation on the ground in Jordan as seriously as we do, and understands that it may need to be flexible with its resources if circumstances dictate.
I was also pleased to see the Administration reverse course from last year’s request and allocate additional funds for Tunisia. $95 million for FY19 represents a $40 million increase from the FY18 request, but falls far short of what’s required, and far short of what Congress has appropriated. Tunisia’s stability and success are of vital importance to the United States and the region – failing to ensure its viability would be a terrible mistake.
We want to work with the Administration to advance our interests in the region, to ensure we have an adequate response to the ongoing crises, and to ensure the region’s stability and security - I am eager to hear from our witnesses on ways we can work together to achieve that.”
Reps. Deutch, Ros-Lehtinen Introduce Bill to Prevent the President from Canceling Penalties on ZTE
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) introduced legislation to prevent the President from canceling penalties on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE.
The intelligence community and law enforcement officials have repeatedly warned that ZTE products pose serious national security threats to the United States. In April 2018, the Commerce Department imposed an order of denial on ZTE banning it from doing business with U.S. firms for its repeated violations of U.S. laws. ZTE was previously found to be exporting products to Iran and North Korea, and the company lied to U.S. investigators throughout the investigation. ZTE technology has been used by the Iranian regime in its brutal repression of the people of Iran.
Congressman Deutch: “ZTE doesn’t deserve a bail out from President Trump. It is unclear why the President is ignoring the warning of his own Administration, but letting ZTE off the hook after Trump owned businesses move forward with real estate deals funded by the Chinese government raises serious concerns. The President has provided no justification for this sweetheart deal. Congress has worked to craft tough bipartisan sanctions that protect our national security. Contrary to President Trump’s claims that he will use “maximum pressure” to advance America’s interests, his actions will hollow out our sanctions laws and give bad actors a green light to collaborate with our enemies.”
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen: ““There is simply no justification for the President bailing ZTE out and allowing the Chinese company to continue doing business with the U.S. The firm blatantly and repeatedly violated U.S. laws by re-exporting sensitive technologies to rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea. Allowing China, through ZTE, to have access to our critical telecommunications infrastructure is a serious threat to our national security. I’m happy to join Ted in introducing this bill and I hope that Congress can reassert its oversight prerogative in order to prevent misguided, unilateral decisions.”
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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