2017-05-10 / World News

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, champion of Israel, retiring

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a congressional leader who has been a staunch defender of Israel and the rights of Holocaust survivors, is leaving Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen, a moderate Republican from Florida who has sharply criticized the policies of President Donald Trump, told the Miami Herald that she simply no longer felt the drive to run again and is retiring at the end of her current term.

“There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I’ve said, ‘I’ve got to move on,’” Ros-Lehtinen, 64, told the newspaper. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected—but it’s not about getting elected.”

Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuba native of Jewish descent, took a special interest in Israel during her career. The stringent Iran sanctions she authored in 2006 were blocked by congressional procedure, but were the template for the sanctions Congress approved in 2010 that helped force Iran to the negotiating table to limit its nuclear program.

Elected in 1989 from her diverse South Florida district, Ros-Lehtinen was the first Cuban elected to Congress and the first woman to chair the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, from 2011 to 2013.

She remained popular in a district that trended increasingly Democratic, defeating her rival by 10 points in November while Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, was beating Trump by 20 points. (JTA)

Return to top