Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

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Person.png Ileana Ros-Lehtinen  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Congressional Portrait.jpg
The Ros-Lehtinen Congressional Portrait
BornIleana Ros y Adato
July 15, 1952
Havana, Cuba
Alma materMiami Dade College, Florida International University, University of Miami
SpouseDexter Lehtinen
Member ofNational Endowment for Democracy/Board

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a former member of Congress.

She was a Republican Party member of the US House of Representatives from 1989 to 2019. She was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, effective 2011, making her strongly-held views on Israel-Palestine and Cuba of particular interest.

She didn't seek re-election in 2018. Her district was flipped Democrat in the general election.

Position on Israeli-Palestine

Ros-Lehtinen recieves considerable campaign donations from Irving Moskowitz, believed to be profiting from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[1] The lobby group J Street has called on Ros-Lehtinen to return campaign contributions from Moskowitz, saying he "actively works to derail the chances for a two-state solution".[2]

Ros-Lehtinen is a strong supporter of Israel and opposes US support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Palestinian Authority (PA).[3]

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."

In September 2011 she she introduced a bill to cut off US funding to any UN organization that recognises Palestinian statehood.[4] This was most unpopular with the US State Department who "slammed" the bill.

She played the leading role (with Tom Lantos) in enacting the embargo on the Palestinian Authority in 2005. As revenge for the Mecca agreement she influenced the congress to withhold $86 million in "security assistance" meant for Mahmoud Abbas (which was promised in return for collaboration against Hamas with US-Israel). To preempt the Baker-Hamilton Commission’s recommendations for opening talks with the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Ros-Lehtinen, along with Tom Lantos, authored and got congressional approval for the Palestinian Anti-Terror Act of 2006, on behalf of AIPAC, which put a ban on any such talks. With Tom Lantos, she also spearheaded a resolution "that calls on the president to instruct government officials to match any reference to Palestinian refugees in international fora with a reference to Jewish and Christian refugees from Arab lands." [5]

According to her House biography, she is a proponent of "increased support for Israel," and "continues to be a fighter for our U.S. ally, Israel, participating in the Jewish Federation’s fund-raising phone-a-thons in Miami, as well as numerous visits to Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, and the Golan Heights".

Position on Cuba

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.

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, she 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.[6] 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.[7]

Ros-Lehtinen's rise to congress was coordinated by Jeb Bush, who became her campaign manager and was endorsed by Jorge Mas Canosa, former head of the Cuban-American National Foundation. She has lobbied for the release and pardon of the terrorist Orlando Bosch, involved in the 1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455 which killed 73 people. She helped organise an "Orlando Bosch day" to gain support for his release. [8] She has defended former fugitive Velentin Hernández, convicted of murdering Luciano Nieves, a fellow Cuban exile who supported negotiations with the Cuban government. She attempted to block Jimmy Carter’s visit to Cuba.

Early life, education and career

Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba in 1952.

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.[9] 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.[10]

Other Political positions

Ros-Lehtinen is considered conservative on foreign, economic, and other social policy. Ros-Lehtinen is a supporter of President George W. 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 military coup against President Manuel Zelaya. She has said of the decision to invade 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." [11]

Among Ros-Lehtinen's other conservative views include votes against the estate tax, voted in favor of 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, 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.[12]

Ros-Lehtinen generally portrays a pro-military stance. However, during the 2011 Libyan uprising, she shifted her position in support of the Libyan opposition; on February 26, 2011, she released a press release which stated, "The United States Must Support These Brave Men and Women Who are Seeking to Throw Off the Shackles of Tyranny in Libya." On March 20, 2011, she said the following in a new press release: "I am concerned that the President has yet to clearly define for the American people what vital United States security interests he believes are currently at stake in Libya.".[13]

The congresswoman has been a forerunner in cutting U.S. aid to foreign lands, including the State Department, The Peace Corps, the Asia Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the East-West Center. She advocates cutting funding to Lebanese Armed Forces and the West Bank and Gaza.[14]

Gay rights

Ros-Lehtinen sides with the Democrats on many issues of gay rights, and has opposed Florida’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage.

Passport processing delays

Ros-Lehtinen recently (when?) 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 chairwoman, Ros-Lehtinen brought the pressure of committee Republicans to bear on the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs and spur them to action.[15]

United Nations

On 23 November 2010, Ros-Lehtinen called on the Obama administration to "announce publicly, right now, that we will stay away from Durban III, deny it US taxpayer dollars, and oppose all measures that seek to facilitate it. And we should encourage other responsible nations to do the same."[16]


Ros-Lehtinen joined a Congressional delegation to the UN in order to encourage international support for an end to the genocide in Darfur. When Ros-Lehtinen returned from a trip to Darfur in April 2007 where she visited Sudanese refugee camps, she strongly encouraged the United States and the international community to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.[17][18]

2008 "Bailout"

Ros-Lehtinen voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in its initial September 29, 2008 vote, which failed,[19] but voted in favor of the revised bill in its October 3, 2008 vote, which passed.[20]

Child marriage

Ros-Lehtinen played a key role in preventing the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 from being passed into law. Even though the bill had unanimously passed the Senate with bipartisan support, she persuaded enough Republicans in the House to vote against the bill so that it did not receive the required two-thirds majority.[21]


Ros-Lehtinen has in the past been an ardent supporter of the Church of Scientology. She was "honored at a 2004 Celebrity Centre gala" with famous Scientologists such as John Travolta and Kelly Preston.[22]


Event Participated in

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  1. Greybeards Urge U.S. not to Veto U.N. Anti-Settlement Resolution (IPS, January 19, 2011)
  2. J Street tells Ros-Lehtinen to give up Moskowitz donations Jerusalem Post, Jan 20, 2011.
  3. Ros-Lehtinen is a strong supporter of Israel. Foreign Affairs Republican 2009.
  4. Palestinian Statehood: A Bad Bill for Everyone The Economist 8 September 2011.
  5. 'U.S. Congress to consider resolution on Jewish refugees' The Canadian Jewish News, 1 June, 2006.
  6. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Admits 'Kill Castro' remark Newsmax
  7. Tape contradicts Ros-Lehtinen. Miami Herald.
  8. 'Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Orlando Bosch And The Bush Family' 16 September, 2008.
  9. Project Vote Smart - Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen - Biography
  10. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) The Washington Post April 15, 2007.
  11. The Hill Dead Link Reference in the Wikipedia article on Ros-Lehtinen.
  12. Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers
  13. Gingrich Not Alone In No-fly Zone Contradiction ABC News March 24, 2011.
  14. Ros Lehtinen targets several State Department budget items The Cable 23rd Mar 2011.
  15. Ros-Lehtinen brought the pressure of committee Republicans to bear on the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs and spur them to action over processing Passports. Dead Link Reference in the Wikipedia article on Ros-Lehtinen. MSNBC
  16. U.N. Pours Salt in America's Wounds, FOX News 24-11-2010
  17. Foreign Affairs Republicans 2007.
  18. Foreign Affairs Republicans 2007.
  20. Final vote results for roll call 681 on 2008 Bailout.
  21. Who killed the bill to prevent forced child marriages "Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen defeated a bill that would have committed the United States to combating forced child marriages abroad" The Washington Post. 22nd Dec 2010.
  22. The Church of Scientology's friends in Washington, 10th Feb 2011.

External links