Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 18th district
Assumed office 
August 29, 1989
Preceded by Claude Pepper

Born July 15, 1952 (1952-07-15) (age 57)
Havana, Cuba
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dexter Lehtinen
Residence Miami, Florida
Alma mater Miami Dade College, Florida International University, University of Miami
Occupation teacher
Religion Episcopalian

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (also known as Ileana Ros; born Ileana Ros y Adato July 15, 1952) is a Cuban-American politician and former teacher. Since 1989, she has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Florida's 18th congressional district.[1]

She is currently the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House, and was the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. Ros-Lehtinen is the Ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the 111th Congress.


Early years

Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba, one of two children born to Enrique Ros and his wife, Amanda Adato.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in education and her Master of Arts in educational leadership from Florida International University. She attended the University of Miami where she earned a Ph.D in higher education.[2] She was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1982 to 1986, and was then a one-term member of the Florida Senate before entering the House.

Prior to entering political life, Ros-Lehtinen was an educator and the owner/operator of a private school in Miami-Dade County.[3] Upon her election to succeed the late Congressman Claude Pepper, she became the first Cuban American and the first Hispanic woman elected to the United States Congress.

Religious Views

Project Vote Smart lists Ros-Lehtinen as Episcopalian.[2] Ros-Lehtinen’s maternal grandparents were Sephardic Jews from Turkey who had been active in Cuba’s Jewish community.[4] Her mother later converted to Catholicism.[4]

Political Views

Ros-Lehtinen was an original author of the Vision Care for Kids Act. She is also an original cosponsor of the Vision Preservation Act.

Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, although she sides with the Democrats on the issue of gay rights. Her district includes large LGBT populations in South Beach in Miami Beach and in the Florida Keys. She is currently the only Republican member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and is a vice-chairperson. She supports anti-hate crime laws, anti-discrimination bills, believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces, is a sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and was a founding member (one of only two Republicans[5]) and the only current Republican member of the LGBT congressional caucus.[6] She is considered conservative on foreign, economic, and other social policy. Ros-Lehtinen is a supporter of President Bush's surge policy in Iraq, a supporter of Israel and supports continued sanctions against Cuba. She also supported the de facto government in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, that emerged after the Honduran Supreme Court's removal of President Manuel Zelaya.

Among Ros-Lehtinen's other conservative views include votes against the estate tax on the wealthy, votes in favor of President Bush's tax cuts, for fuel efficiency standards on autos, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, support of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), votes in favor of making the Patriot Act permanent, support of the Military Commissions Act, votes against funding for stem cell research, and votes against SCHIP. She is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[7]

She is also a frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Congressional committee assignments

Caucus membership

Positions on issues

Iraq: “Whether or not there is a direct link to the World Trade Center does not mean that Iraq is not meritorious of shedding blood. The common link is that they hate America.” [8]

State Department Passport Controversy: Ros-Lehtinen recently pressured the State Department to accelerate its processing of passports, something that had hindered American citizens’ travel during the crucial summer travel season. Calling the delay “outrageous, incomprehensible, unconscionable” at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she is Ranking Member, Ros-Lehtinen brought the pressure of committee Republicans to bear on the State Department and spur them to action.[9]

Darfur: This summer, Ros-Lehtinen joined Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on a Congressional delegation to the United Nations in order to encourage international support for an end to the genocide in Darfur. In addition, Ros-Lehtinen returned from a trip to Darfur in April 2007 where she visited Sudanese refugee camps. Ros-Lehtinen returned and strongly encouraged the United States and the international community to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.[10][11]

Miami River: During her tenure in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen has been successful in championing the issue of the Miami River. In July 2007, she signed a mock check for $20.5 million, much of it federal funds in addition to state and local money, in order to resume the dredging of the Miami River.[12]

Aquarius Dive: Recently, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen participated in a scuba dive down to the underwater Aquarius Habitat where she joined in a live underwater broadcast shown directly to 3rd through 6th graders at an Islamorada Montessori School on how to preserve coral reefs in the Florida Keys.[13]

WRDA: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen voted for the Water Resources Development Act. This bill will provide for extensive environmental development and restoration projects. It also provides assistance for South Florida's coral reefs and the Miami River.[14]

Palestine: Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is opposing US support to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority. She is a strong supporter of Israel.[15]

As of 2010, she is the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. After comments by State department over Israeli settlements, she demanded that the Obama administration halt its condemnations of "an indispensable ally and friend of the United States."


Dexter Lehtinen, Celia Cruz, Alonso R. del Portillo, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, and Pedro Knight in May 1992.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen plays a prominent role in the Cuban-American lobby, which aims to put pressure on the Cuban government and encourage political change on the island. She is a member of the Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus. She is the daughter of Enrique Ros, a Florida based Cuban business man and anti-Fidel Castro activist and Amanda Adato. Ros-Lehtinen also advances strongly held views on Cuba, and has lobbied against ending the United States embargo against that country. In 2004 she formed the Cuba Democracy Group aimed at curtailing U.S. agriculture exports and preventing U.S. banks from doing business with the Cuban government.[16]

Ros-Lehtinen has defended former fugitive Velentin Hernández, convicted of murdering Luciano Nieves, a fellow Cuban exile who supported negotiations with the Cuban government,[17] In the 1980s Ros-Lehtinen lobbied for the release and pardon of Cuban exile Orlando Bosch, who had been convicted of terrorist acts and has also been accused of involvement in the 1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455, which killed 73 people, helping organize an "Orlando Bosch day" to gain support for his release.[18][19][20] Ros-Lehtinen played a prominent role in the failed attempt by relatives of Elian Gonzalez to gain custody of six year old from his Cuban father, describing Cuba as "that system of godless communism".[21] She also attempted to block Jimmy Carter's visit to the island in 2002.[22][23]

Calls to assassinate Fidel Castro

Ros-Lehtinen stirred controversy by calling for the assassination of Cuban Leader Fidel Castro. She appears in the British documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro, saying: "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people." After a 28-second clip began circulating on the Internet, the Havana-born lawmaker claimed the filmmakers spliced clips together to get the sound bite. Twenty-four hours after the controversy erupted, director Dollan Cannell sent unedited tapes of his interview with Ros-Lehtinen to reporters.[24] The uncut version contradicted Ros-Lehtinen's response and showed that she had twice welcomed an attempt on Castro's life. Though she attempted to distance herself from her denial, filmmaker Cannell requested an apology, which has not been forthcoming.[25]

Position on 2008 "Bailout"

Ros-Lehtinen voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in its initial September 29, 2008 vote, which failed,[26] but voted in favor of the revised bill in its October 3, 2008 vote, which passed.[27]

Obama "prank" calls

Following the 2008 elections, president-elect Barack Obama rang Ros-Lehtinen to congratulate her on her re-election. She hung up on him, believing that it was a prank call from a radio station. She did the same to Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he rang to confirm the original call was genuine, and only accepted the call after Congressman Howard Berman managed to speak to her.[28][29]

Notable staff members or interns


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b [2]
  3. ^ [3].
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ [6]
  13. ^ [7]
  14. ^ [8]
  15. ^
  16. ^ Election galvanizes Cuba embargo backers. Cuba central.
  17. ^ Our Man's in Miami. Patriot or Terrorist? Washington Post. April 17, 2005.
  18. ^ The ghost of terror past.
  19. ^ Who is a terrorist? South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Wayne S. Smith. May 31, 2002
  20. ^ Congressman Diaz-Balart Says U.S. Should Consider Assassination of Fidel Castro. Wayne Smith. CIP senior fellow. March 31, 2004
  21. ^ Who Should Decide the Destiny of Elian Gonzalez. CNN transcripts.
  22. ^ Ann Louise Bardach. Cuba confidential. p351. "Ignoring the growls of the Reich team and attempts by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart to block the visit, the Bush administration reluctantly granted approval"
  23. ^ Will Jimmy Carter Become First President to Visit Castro in Cuba? CNN transcripts.
  24. ^ Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Admits 'Kill Castro' remark Newsmax
  25. ^ Tape contradicts Ros-Lehtinen. Miami Herald.
  26. ^ "Bailout Roll Call" (PDF). 2008-09-29. Retrieved September 29, 2008. 
  27. ^ "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 681". 2008-10-03.  Retrieved on October 03, 2008
  28. ^ Press Release from the Office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, ABC News
  29. ^ Congresswoman hangs up on Obama, BBC, 4 December 2008

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Claude Pepper
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 18th congressional district

1989 – present

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