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Eliot Engel


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Jerrold Nadler

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th district
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Mario Biaggi
Succeeded by Hamilton Fish IV

Born February 18, 1947 (1947-02-18) (age 62)
New York City, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Patricia Ennis
Residence Bronx, New York City, New York
Alma mater Lehman College, City University of New York, New York Law School
Occupation junior high school teacher
Religion Jewish

Eliot L. Engel (born February 18, 1947) is an American Democratic politician who currently represents New York’s 17th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. The district encompasses portions of the Bronx, Westchester County and Rockland County. It includes such neighborhoods as Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, Williamsbridge, Van Cortlandt Park Village and Wakefield in the Bronx; Mount Vernon and parts of Yonkers, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson and Tarrytown in Westchester; and the towns of Ramapo, Orangetown and the southern half of Clarkstown in Rockland County. Rep. Engel won re-election in 2008 for his eleventh term.

Contents

Early life and career

Rep. Engel was born in the Bronx as the son of an ironworker. He grew up in a city housing project and attended New York City public schools. In 1969, he graduated from Hunter-Lehman College with a B.A. in History and received a Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling in 1973 from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. In 1987, he received a law degree from New York Law School.

He began his political career in local Democratic clubs. He taught at Intermediate School 52 from 1969-1976 and at Intermediate School 174 after that. In 1977, while a teacher and guidance counselor in New York City public schools, Engel entered the special election for a seat in the New York State Assembly when the incumbent Alan Hochberg was forced to resign. He risked his life savings and won by 103 votes. He won the general election and served in the New York State Assembly for 12 years from 1977 to 1988. He chaired the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, as well as the Subcommittee on Mitchell Lama Housing.

Election to Congress

In 1988, Engel was elected to the House of Representatives, after defeating Congressman Mario Biaggi in the Democratic primary. Biaggi had been charged with racketeering in the Wedtech scandal[1]; he was eventually jailed by Rudolph W. Giuliani. Biaggi ran against and lost to Engel in 1992.

Engel ran for, and won, re-election in 2008 for his eleventh term.

Political positions

Engel is a supporter of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has also been an advocate for the causes of Albanian-Americans and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. In 2003, he authored the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 12, 2003.[2] In this Law, Congress authorized penalties and restrictions on US relations with Syria for its occupation of Lebanon and for its relationship with terrorist groups.

Eliot Engel is a member of the New Democrat Coalition and the Democratic Leadership Council.

Engel received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005[3] Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.

Eliot Engel was a strong supporter of the military campaign against Iraq. On October 10, 2002, he was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq. As the war dragged on, his position changed. He now responds to questions about his support for the war by saying that had he known then what he now knows, he would have acted differently.

Health care

Access to health care

Engel supports quality access to health care and refers to himself as pro-choice “all the way."[4] Engel is a co-sponsor of HR 676, which would implement a single payer health care system in the United States.

In 2008, Engel authored the ALS Registry Act (P.L. 110-373)[5] which established a national registry for the collection and storage of data on those suffering from ALS. He also authored the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Act(P.L. 110-361)[6] which promoted research at Centers of Excellence for Muscular Dystrophy.

Global health

Rep. Engel supports an improved reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Assistance (PEPFAR). Within the PEPFAR bill, Engel included his bill, the Stop Tuberculosis Now Act.[7] This measure provides increased U.S. support for international TB control activities and promotes research to develop new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.

Energy

In 2005, Engel introduced with Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) the Fuel Choices for American Security Act (H.R. 4409), later modified and reintroduced in 2007 as the DRIVE Act (H.R. 670) – the Dependence Reduction through Innovation in Vehicles and Energy Act – with more than 80 bi-partisan co-sponsors. It was designed to promote America’s national security and economic stability by reducing dependence on foreign oil through the use of clean alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. It also called for increased tire efficiency – to increase a vehicle’s gas miles.[8]

Many provisions of the DRIVE Act were included in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law on December 19, 2007, and became Public Law No. 110-140. This law mandates increased fuel efficiency standards from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The law also requires improved energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings, and the development of American-grown biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and biobutanol.

On July 22, 2008, Engel introduced with Congressmen Kingston, Steve Israel (D-NY) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) the Open Fuel Standards Act.[9] This bill requires 50 percent of new cars sold in the United States by 2012 (and 80 percent of new cars sold by 2015) to be flex fuel vehicles –capable of running on any combination of ethanol, methanol or gasoline. Flex fuel vehicles cost about $100 more than the same vehicle in a gasoline-only version. This bill has been resubmitted in the 111th United States Congress by Rep. Engel, Inglis, Israel and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD).

Rep. Engel is the senior New York Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the only New York Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. He played a key role in negotiating the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454[29], which passed the House on June 26, 2009.[30] That legislation is intended to revitalize the economy by creating millions of new jobs, increase American national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil, and preserve the planet by reducing the pollution. [31]

Gun control

Rep. Engel has received an "F" grade from the National Rifle Association, which lists as its goals the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection of hunting and self-defense in the United States. Rep. Engel strongly believes in restricting citizen gun use through "smart gun" technology, extending waiting periods for citizens, and allowing the victims of criminals' gun violence to sue firearm manufacturers and authorized sellers. [32]. He also believes in requiring background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows [33], and disagrees with the statement that "District of Columbia does not have the authority to enact laws or regulations that 'discourage or eliminate' private ownership or use of firearms [34]." Rep. Engel signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging the "return to enforcement of the law banning imports of assault weapons, which was previously enforced during the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton." [35] He also opposed the proposed rule to allow visitors to carry loaded, concealed firearms to certain national parks.[36]

Conversely, Rep. Engel has received a 100 percent rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which is "devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities." [37] In addition, he has also been given a 100 percent grade from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who "seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy." [38]. Rep. Engel repeatedly votes for gun control laws for Americans. He introduced H.R. 1784, the Protect Law Enforcement Armor (PLEA) Act, which would ban the Five-seveN handguns. This type of gun, referred to as a "cop killer" was allegedly used by the Fort Hood shooter in November 2009 [39] and is described as a weapon able to "defeat the enemy in all close combat situations in urban areas, jungle conditions, night missions and any self defense action." [40] ; Rep. Engel introduced H.R. 2217 to protect parents and children from faulty gun locks, by instructing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to set a national quality standard for all child safety devices used on firearms. [41]

Other domestic issues

Rep. Engel originally introduced the Securing our Borders and Our Data Act in July 2008, HR 6702.[42] That bill would ensure that when a traveler enters the United States, a border agent cannot search or seize the traveler's data or equipment without cause. [43] The legislation was reintroduced in the 111th Congress as HR 239.[44] Recently, the Department of Homeland Security altered their rules to prevent agents from searching and seizing without cause. [45] This encompassed much of Rep. Engel's legislation.

In the 109th Congress, Rep. Engel introduced the Calling Card Consumer Protection Act, HR 3402.[46] This bill would work to stop some of the massive fraud in the prepaid calling card industry.[47] The legislation passed the House unanimously, but the Senate did not act on it.

International affairs

Western Hemisphere Subcommittee

As Chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Engel has called for stronger U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. His Subcommittee has held hearings on issues such as the crisis in Haiti, poverty and inequality in Latin America.

Engel pushed for increased funding for emergency relief in Haiti and for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) of Haitian nationals in the U.S.[48] Engel is also supportive of the “Merida Initiative” in which the U.S. is cooperating with Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti to counter narco-trafficking and related violence in the region. In the 110th United States Congress, he introduced the Social Investment and Economic Development Act for the Americas of 2007[10] and sponsored the Western Hemisphere Energy Compact Act[11] to promote energy cooperation and alternative energy in the region.

Middle East

Engel has been a vocal supporter of Israel. In 2008, he was the lead Democrat on a resolution condemning Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.[12] Shortly after entering Congress, he sponsored a resolution declaring Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel.[13] He also wrote the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 12, 2003.[14] This law authorized restrictions on American relations with Syria and penalties for its occupation of Lebanon and for its relationship with terrorist groups.

Kosovo and the Balkans

In 1996, the Washington Post wrote, “The Kosovo cause has been kept alive in Washington by a small group of congressmen led by Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.)....”[15] (Dobbs, Michael, “Kosovo’s Albanians Look to U.S. for Help; American Office Opened in Serb-Ruled Region,” The Washington Post, July 21, 1996). While a member of the Subcommittee on Europe and Chair of the Congressional Albanian Issues Caucus, Engel fought ethnic cleansing and genocide in Kosovo in 1999 and voiced support in Congress for independence of the Republic of Kosovo. A street has been named after him in Peć and he was the first foreign dignitary to address the Kosovo parliament.[16]

Cyprus

Engel called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and authored a resolution in 1996 its demilitarization. His 1994 law allowed the United States Department of State to conduct an investigation of five Americans who disappeared during the Turkish invasion of 1974 and found the remains of one.[17] Engel received the George Paraskevaides Award on May 17, 2007, given to those who have utilized ancient Hellenic values to contribute to the nations and people of Cyprus and America and to the Hellenics in the modern world.[18]

Iraq War

In 2002, Engel joined the two Senators from New York, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, and almost 300 members of the United States House of Representatives in voting for the resolution granting President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq.[19] After learning that much of the intelligence provided to Congress was inaccurate and how poorly the aftermath of the invasion was handled, Engel has come to regret that vote. He has since repeatedly voted for a timetable for withdrawal.[20] He has met with anti-war activists, and in 2008, he publicly called for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Engel received an “A” grade from the Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans in 2008.[21]

Irish affairs

In 2007, Engel became a Co-Chair of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs. He supported the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and aided Irish nationals facing deportation from the United States.[22] He has been a friend of Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein[23], and was the author of legislation which prohibits employers in Northern Ireland and Ireland from receiving U.S. funds from the International Fund for Ireland unless they comply with fair employment and non-discrimination principles called the “MacBride Principles”.[24]

Italian knighting

In 1998, as a response to Engel’s work in Albania and Kosovo, the Italian government presented him, and his then-Administrative Assistant John Calvelli, with a ceremonial knighthood[25] for his work in promoting United States-Italian ties. Ambassador Fernando Salleo issued the knighthood and Italian Consular General in New York Antonio Bandini performed the ceremony.

Human rights

As a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Engel has supported Albanian-Americans and ethnic Albanians in Kosova. He is co-author of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, along with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), which addresses child labor in the cocoa fields of West Africa.

In early 2001, he wrote the House resolution condemning the Taliban for forcing Hindu citizens to wear distinguishing marks as reminiscent of the Nazis forcing Jews to wear a yellow Star of David.[26] In 2008, he wrote a resolution commending the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality.[27]

Engel sponsored a bill to support the Day of Silence during which students vow to remain silent to bring attention to the harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in schools.[28] That bill has been resubmitted in the 111th United States Congress. [49] He also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which stopped same-sex couples from getting married. [50]

Reputation

Engel has focused his attention on district issues and constituent service. Due to the high number of immigrants living in his district, his district staffers have served as liaisons between the newest Americans and the complex immigration system.

Awards

Awarded by health groups

Engel received the "National Association of Public Hospitals Safety Net Award" in 2007 primarily for the introduction of The Public and Teaching Hospital Preservation Act. [51]He also earned the "100% Perfection in the Pursuit of Equality" in 2002 from the Human Rights Campaign. Engel was presented with "The AIDS Institute National HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Award" in 2007 [52]and is the 2008 "Distinguished Community Health Superhero" as deemed by the National Association of Community Health Centers.[53]

Awarded by environmental groups

Engel has received positive marks from major environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters [54]and the Sierra Club.[55]

Other Awards

Engel was honored in 2008 by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the New York Farm Bureau as a “Friend of the Farm Bureau” for his support of farm issues during the 110th United States Congress.[56] He received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's Congressional Scorecards in 2005 and 2008 for supporting middle-class issues.[57] Engel has had a nearly 100% rating from the AFL-CIO over his entire legislative career.[58]

Primary challenges

In 2000, Engel defeated a high-profile challenge from then-Bronx State Senator Larry Seabrook, who had the support of Bronx County Democratic Party Chairman Roberto Ramirez. He has won all of his primary and general elections, often with up to 80 percent of the vote – including wins over Seabrook, Willie Colon, Kevin McAdams, and two recent wins over anti-war activist Jessica Flagg.

Controversy

Engel was criticized[29] for choosing to attend a July 2008 event hosted by the controversial pastor John Hagee, who has suggested that God sent Adolf Hitler to bring the Jews to Israel.[30]

In March 2009, the AP reported that Engel had been taking an annual tax credit on his Maryland residence for at least ten years, despite the fact that the credit is reserved for people who declare Maryland their primary residence. Engel ran for reelection in the Bronx at least five times while claiming a primary residence credit in Maryland, during which time he received "thousands of dollars" in tax credits. Maryland officials revoked the tax credit.[31]. The Washington Post reported that the matter was reviewed by the Office of Congressional Ethics in August, 2009, and that the Office was "[e]xpecting OCE notice of termination" for Engel."[32]

Feud with newspaper publisher Christopher Hagedorn

Publisher Christopher Hagedorn has often used his Bronx weekly newspapers, the Bronx News, the Parkchester News, and the Co-op City News, to attack Engel.[33] Hagedorn believes that Engel, when he was still an Assemblyman, was behind a failed effort in 1988 to evict the Co-op City News from its offices in Co-op City.[34] Since 1988, Hagedorn has published numerous editorials and articles attacking Engel and even reprinted critical articles about him that have been published in other newspapers. Hagedorn has often endorsed Engel's opponents in the Democratic primary and the general election but the Congressman always won re-election to Congress. In 2000, Hagedorn intensified his campaign against Engel when the leadership of the powerful Bronx County Democratic organization decided to support former Assemblyman and City Councilman Larry Seabrook in the primary against Engel.[35] Seabrook, whose campaign was plagued with problems, lost the primary to Engel by a wide margin.

Since they had real no effect on his elections, Engel has mostly ignored Hagedorn's attacks. In 1995, however, his then-communications director Greg Howard, told the Bronx Beat newspaper, which wrote about the feud, "We don't consider Mr. Hagedorn a legitimate journalist. He uses the paper as his own personal platform for whatever agenda he has. He chooses the paper to malign people with whom he has philosophical differences."[33]

In the last decade, Hagedorn's newspapers have mostly ignored Engel, but the two remain bitter enemies.

Visibility at State of the Union Addresses

Engel can be seen shaking hands with the president during televised State of the Union Addresses.[36] Engel shows up to the Capitol early in order to guarantee that he will get an aisle seat. Since 1989, Engel has managed to shake hands with the president at every address and be seen by his constituents on television.[37] Over the years, Engel has encountered ridicule for efforts at obtaining an aisle seat in order to shake the president's hand. For example, in her column for New York Newsday (Jan. 26, 1994), Gail Collins called the handshake "The Engel Lunge."[38] In response to the criticism and ridicule, Engel always said that he is proud of his actions.

Committee assignments

• Energy and Commerce Committee

Subcommittee on Health

• Foreign Affairs Committee

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere (Chairman)

Subcommittee on Europe

Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia

• Vice Chair of the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security

• Founder and Co-Chair of the House Oil and National Security Caucus – seeking clean, energy efficient alternatives to America’s over-reliance on oil

• Member of the New Democrat Coalition and the Democratic Leadership Council.

• Democratic Task Force on Health

• House Caucus on Human Rights

• House Caucus on the Hudson Valley

• Member of the Congressional Albanian Caucus and Irish Caucus

• Member of the Arab-Israeli Peace Accord Monitoring Group

Election results

[59]

1988 – Primary – NY District 19

Eliot Engel – 50%

Vincent Marchiselli – 25%

Mario Biaggi – 25%

1988 – General

Eliot Engel (D) - 59%

Mario Biaggi (R) - 29%

Robert Blumetti (O) - 9%

Martin O'Grady (O) - 3%

1990 – Primary – NY District 19

Eliot Engel – 71%

Dominick Fusco – 29%

1990 - General

Eliot Engel (D) - 61%

William Gouldman (R) - 23%

Kevin Brawley (O) - 16%

1992 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel's - 73%

Mario Biaggi - 27%

1992 General

Eliot Engel (D,L) - 81%

Martin Richman (R) - 14%

Kevin Brawley (C) - 3%

Martin O'Grady (RTL) - 2%

Nana LaLuz (NLP) - 1%

1994 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel – 61%

Willie Colon – 39%

1994 - General

Eliot Engel (D) - 74 %

Edward Marshall (R) - 19%

Kevin Brawley (Other) - 5 %

Ann Noonan (Other) - 2 %

1996 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel - 76 %

Herbert Moreira-Brown – 24%

1996 - General

Eliot Engel (D) - 85 %

Denis McCarthy (R) - 14 %

Dennis Coleman (Ind.) - 2 %

1998 Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel - 80%

Herbert Moreira-Brown – 20%

1998 - General

Eliot Engel (D) – 88%

Peter Fiumefreddo (R) - 12%

2000 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel – 50%

Larry Seabrook – 41%

Sonny Zayas – 9%

2000 - General

Eliot Engel (D) – 89%

Patrick McManus (R) – 11%

2002 – Primary – NY District 17

None

2002 – General

Eliot Engel (D) – 62%

C. Scott Vanderhoef (R ) – 35%

Arthur Gallagher (RTL) – 2%

Elizabeth Shanklin (Green) – 1%

2004 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel – 65%

Kevin McAdams – 23%

Jessica Flagg – 12%

2004 - General

Eliot Engel (D) – 76%

Matthew Brennan (R) – 23%

Kevin Brawley (Con.) – 2%

2006 – Primary – NY District 17

Eliot Engel – 83%

Jessica Flagg - 17%

2006 – General

Eliot Engel (D) – 76%

James Faulkner (R) – 24%

2008 – Primary – NY District 17

None

2008 - General

Eliot Engel (D) – 79%

Robert Goodman (R) – 21%

References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ [7]
  8. ^ [8]
  9. ^ [9]
  10. ^ [10]
  11. ^ [11]
  12. ^ [12]
  13. ^ [13]
  14. ^ [14]
  15. ^ [15]
  16. ^ [16]
  17. ^ [17]
  18. ^ [18]
  19. ^ [19]
  20. ^ [20]
  21. ^ [21]
  22. ^ [22]
  23. ^ [23]
  24. ^ [24]
  25. ^ [25]
  26. ^ [26]
  27. ^ [27]
  28. ^ [28]
  29. ^ "Engel taking heat". The Riverdale Press. June 5, 2008. http://www.riverdalepress.com/full.php?sid=4764&current_edition=2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  30. ^ Besser, James (July 23, 2008). "Lieberman: Hagee Still Like Moses". The Jewish Week. http://thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c41_a13013/News/Short_Takes.html. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  31. ^ "Bronx Representative Loses a Tax Break". The New York Times. March 13, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/14/nyregion/14engel.html?ref=nyregion. Retrieved 2009-03-22.  
  32. ^ "Ethics office reviewed tax records of four House members". The Washington Post. October 30, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103001391.html?hpid=topnews. Retrieved 2009-11-08.  
  33. ^ a b "Hagedorn Takes No Prisoners In Co-op City War of Words" Bronx Beat On-line (published by students of the Columbia School of Journalism) (December 11, 1995)
  34. ^ "Co-op City Ends Lease of Hard-Hitting Paper" New York Times (April 2, 1988)
  35. ^ "Viritol Flows in Race for Congress; Accusations Overshadow Issues in Bronx Contest" New York Times (September 8, 2000)
  36. ^ Los Angeles Times, Top of the Ticket blog, February 24, 2009 "The Democrat who hogs the aisle seat at every presidential address to Congress
  37. ^ Washington Post, The Sleuth blog, February 24, 2009 "Obama Makes Rep. Engel 21 for 21 on Handshakes"
  38. ^ Newsday (Jan. 26, 1994) "Needed: Firm Hands, Not Handshakes"

External links

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Alan Hochberg
New York State Assembly, 81st District
1977–1988
Succeeded by
Stephen B. Kaufman
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mario Biaggi
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th congressional district

1989–1993
Succeeded by
Hamilton Fish IV
Preceded by
Jerrold Nadler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th congressional district

1993–
Succeeded by
Incumbent







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