Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

name = Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

date of birth = birth date and age|1952|07|15
place of birth = Havana, Cuba
state = Florida
district = 18th
term_start = August 28, 1989
preceded = Claude Pepper
succeeded = Incumbent
religion = Episcopalian
party = Republican
spouse = Dexter Lehtinen
alma_mater=Miami Dade College, Florida International University, University of Miami
residence=Miami, Florida

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (also known as Ileana Ros; born Ileana Ros y Adato July 15 1952) is a Republican United States Representative for ushr|Florida|18| [ [] ,] having held that office since 1989. She is currently the most senior Republican woman in the United States Congress. Ros-Lehtinen is the Ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the 110th Congress.

Early Years

She was born in Havana, Cuba to Enrique Ros and his wife, Amanda Adato; was educated at Florida International University where she received a BA in Education and an MA in Educational Leadership, and also attended the University of Miami where she received a PhD in Higher Education [ [] ] . 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. [ [] .] Upon her election to succeed the late Congressman Claude Pepper, she became the first Cuban American congresswoman elected to the United States Congress.

Religious Views

Although earlier biographies listed her religious affiliation as Roman Catholic,Fact|date=March 2008 she no longer makes reference to her religion in her official biography. [ [] ] Project Vote Smart lists Ros-Lehtinen as Episcopalian. [ [] ] Ros-Lehtinen’s maternal grandparents were Sephardic Jews from Turkey who had been active in Cuba’s Jewish community. [ [] ] Her mother was JewishFact|date=March 2008 but converted to Catholicism.

Political Views

Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, although she sides with the Democrats on one social issue: gay rights. She supports anti-hate crime laws, anti-discrimination bills, believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces, voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and is one of two Republican members of the LGBT congressional caucus. [ [] ] 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.

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 also a frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Committee Assignments

*Committee on Foreign Affairs (Ranking Member)
*Co-Chair, Congressional Vision Caucus
*Co-Chair, National Marine Sanctuary Caucus
*LGBT Caucus


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.” [ [] ]

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 Affair 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. [ [] ]

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. [ [] ] [ [] ]

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. [ [] ]

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. [ [] ]

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. [ [] ]


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. [ [ Election galvanizes Cuba embargo backers] . Cuba central.]

Ros-Lehtinen has defended former fugitive Velentin Hernández, convicted of murdering Luciano Nieves, a fellow Cuban exile who supported negotiations with the Cuban government, [ [ Our Man's in Miami] . Patriot or Terrorist? Washington Post. April 17, 2005.] 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. [ [ The ghost of terror past] .] [ [ Who is a terrorist?] South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Wayne S. Smith. May 31, 2002] [ [ Congressman Diaz-Balart Says U.S. Should Consider Assassination of Fidel Castro] . Wayne Smith. CIP senior fellow. March 31, 2004] 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". [ [ Who Should Decide the Destiny of Elian Gonzalez] . CNN transcripts.] She also attempted to block Jimmy Carter's visit to the island in 2002. [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"] [ [ Will Jimmy Carter Become First President to Visit Castro in Cuba?] CNN transcripts. ]

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. [ [ Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Admits 'Kill Castro' remark] Newsmax] 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. [ Tape contradicts Ros-Lehtinen] . Miami Herald.]

Position on 2008 "Bailout"

On September 29, 2008, Ros-Lehtinen voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008cite web|title= Bailout Roll Call | url=| date= 2008-09-29 Retrieved on September 29, 2008] , and on October 03, 2008, Ros-Lehtinen voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008cite web|title= FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 681 | url=| date= 2008-10-03 Retrieved on October 03, 2008]

Notable Staff members or Interns

* Rene Garcia, member of the Florida House of Representatives and former intern
*Enrique Pollack, host and founder of "Havana Rock," the Miami, Florida show on radio station WWFE 670 AM and former Congressional Aide
* Marco Rubio, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and former intern
* Mauricio J. Tamargo, 14th Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission and former Chief of Staff


External links

* [ Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen] official U.S. House site
* [ Re-Elect Ileana Ros-Lehtinen] official campaign website

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