Former U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) served for almost three decades as a member of Congress representing diverse areas in South Florida.Rep. Ros-Lehtinen was the Chairwoman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In these roles, she led on pressing foreign policy issues, including fighting Islamist extremism; supporting free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; and imposing sanctions on human rights violators in Venezuela.
Prior to becoming the Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen served as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia; International Operations and Human Rights; International Economic Policy and Trade; and Africa; and as Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was a member of the CIA Subcommittee and the National Security Agency and Cybersecurity Subcommittee.A strong proponent of education, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen holds multiple education degrees, including an Ed.D. from the University of Miami, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Florida International University. She began her career as a Florida certified teacher, and then founded, and served as the principal of, a private bilingual elementary school.
- As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she became a leader in crafting U.S. foreign policy. She served as the Committee’s Chairwoman, and Chair or Co-Chair of multiple subcommittees.
- Key issues include international trade, national security and defense, energy and environment, education and immigration.
- Served for almost three decades as a member of Congress representing a congressional district in South Florida and was the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress.
- U.S. House of Representatives Experience:
- In 2014, as Chairman of the MENA Subcommittee, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen led the effort and ensured passage of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which declared Israel a major strategic partner of the United States, and helped enhance and maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over any threats.
- As the only woman to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen authored the toughest sanctions against any country to date with her Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012. This law expanded sanctions against the regime in Tehran, targeting Iran’s energy, finance and transportation sectors, in order to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and human rights abuses. It also imposed sanctions against both the regimes of Iran and Syria for human rights abuses.
- As Chairman of the MENA Subcommittee, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen authored the Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006. This law codified and expanded U.S. sanctions against Iran to counter Tehran’s weapons programs, tightened rules to prevent Iran from evading sanctions and discouraged international investment in Iran.
- As Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on MENA, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen authored the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA), which became law in December 2018, to oppose multilateral loans to the Ortega regime until democratic order is restored, to sanction members of the regime and to express solidarity with the freedom-loving people of Nicaragua.
- In 2016, also while Chairman Emeritus, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen worked to ensure passage of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act of 2016. This law extended available tools for the administration to sanction members of the despotic Maduro regime while supporting Venezuelan human rights.
- The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015 is another important law authored by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen as Chairman of the MENA Subcommittee, which has enhanced and expanded the U.S.-Jordan relationship in terms of military cooperation, expediting defense sales and authorizing a Memorandum of Understanding, since Jordan continues to be a key U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS and for regional security.
- Fellow, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, Institute of Politics and Public Service, Spring 2019 Fellow.
- Chair, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s (CHLI) “We Belong” Scholarship Campaign
- Board Member, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI)
- Member, U.S. House of Representatives (1989-2019)
- Member of the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, 2019 – present
- Distinguished Presidential Fellow, University of Miami, January 2019 – present
- Ed.D., University of Miami, 2004
- M.A., Florida International University, 1985
- B.A., Florida International University, 1975
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