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Steve Israel
Steve Israel 113th Congress.jpg
Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byCheri Bustos
David Cicilline
Hakeem Jeffries (Co-Chairs)
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byChris Van Hollen
Succeeded byBen Ray Luján
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byRick Lazio
Succeeded byThomas Suozzi
Constituency2nd district (2001–2013)
3rd district (2013–17)
Personal details
Born (1958-05-30) May 30, 1958 (age 62)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)

Steven J. Israel (born May 30, 1958) is an American politician who served as a U.S. Representative from New York from 2001 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected in New York's 2nd congressional district until 2013 and New York's 3rd congressional district until his retirement from Congress.[1]

Since redistricting in 2012, the district includes portions of northern Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island, as well as a small portion of Queens in New York City. Israel chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015 and Democratic Policy and Communications Committee from 2015 to 2017. Prior to his election to Congress, he served on the Huntington Town Board, starting 1993. In 2017, he joined CNN as a political commentator.[2] Israel currently serves on the Board of Advisors for lobbying firm Michael Best Strategies.[3]

Early life and career

Israel was born in Brooklyn[4] and raised in the Long Island community of Levittown, New York.[5] He attended Nassau Community College and Syracuse University for one year before graduating from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1982.[6]

After earning his bachelor's degree, Israel became a staff member for U.S. Representative Richard Ottinger.[4] He was later elected to the town council in Huntington, New York, in 1993.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives


After Rick Lazio left his House seat to run for the United States Senate in 2000, Israel was elected to his seat, receiving 48% of the vote, defeating Republican Joan Jonhson, who received 34%, and four independent candidates.[8] He was reelected six times with relatively little difficulty, despite representing a swing district on paper.

On January 5, 2016, Israel announced that he would not seek reelection in November 2016.[9]

Committee assignments

Caucus membership

Party leadership

  • Assistant Democratic Whip
  • House Democratic Caucus Task Force On Defense and the Military (Chair)
  • House Democratic Study Group on National Security Policy (Co-chair)


Israel voted to authorize George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, even though more than 60 per cent of his Democratic colleagues in the House voted against the bill.[10]

In his second term, Israel was tapped for a leadership position as Assistant Whip. In his third term, Israel was appointed to chair the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Defense and Military, a group of 15 Democratic House members who reach out to the defense community and advise the House Democratic leadership on military policy.

In 2006, in response to Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Israel said, "I disagree with President Carter fundamentally. The reason for the Palestinian plight is the Palestinians."[11]

Israel supported a study on the feasibility of switching from Tuesday to weekend voting.[12]

Occupy Wall Street

Israel's support for Occupy Wall Street drew criticism from conservatives, who claimed the movement harbored "anti-Semitic" elements. In response Israel pointed to his support for the nation of Israel as well as his own Jewish heritage.[13]

DCCC chairman

As an ally of Nancy Pelosi, Israel was mentioned in 2010 as a possible successor to Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the DCCC; he declined to speak about it until after the midterms were over, saying he was "just completely focused on supporting Nancy Pelosi."[14]

It was reported that Pelosi's selection of Israel to head the DCCC had much to do with the district he represents, where "Democrats hold a modest registration edge but independents decide elections." Israel had gained respect through fundraising and recruiting candidates for the campaign committee. Israel is one of the few Democrats who has run campaign ads in defense of his vote on health care.[7]

Policy positions


Israel has said he supports legal abortions in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother, though he does not support abortions being legal in all cases.[15] He has voted against bills that would prohibit federal funding for abortions, against a bill that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions, and against the Abortion Pain Act, which would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Since 2004 he has consistently received 100% ratings from the pro-choice groups NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, as well as a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.


On July 4, 2013 Israel announced legislation that would require all U.S. national parks to sell merchandise that is Made in the USA.[16]

Gun issues

Israel supports increased regulation on gun ownership. He voted against several bills and amendments which would decrease federal regulation of safety precautions of guns and decrease federal regulations on the sale of firearms. He also cosponsored the 2009 "No Fly, No Buy" Act,[17] stating "Gun safety measures like the 'No Fly, No Buy' Act should be a no-brainer for every member of Congress. It's common sense legislation."[18] He has received 0% ratings from the pro-gun rights NRA and the Gun Owners of America, as well as 100% ratings from the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.[19] Israel was an original cosponsor of the bill To extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years (H.R. 3626; 113th Congress), which passed the House on December 3, 2013.[20] The bill allowed for a ten-year extension of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, but did not expand any of its provisions (related to plastic guns).

Health care

Israel voted for the 2010 Affordable Care Act,[21] and against several bills repealing it.[19]

LGBT rights

Israel supports same-sex marriage. In a press release in June 2009, he said, "I'm proud of what Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont have done for marriage equality. I hope that my home state of New York will soon follow."[22] New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011.

He voted for the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell, and for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.[19]

He has a 100% rating from the pro-LGBT rights Human Rights Campaign and a 0% rating from the Family Research Council.[15]

J Street controversy

Steve Israel was an honorary member of the gala host committee for a Gala dinner on October 27, 2009 by J Street, a liberal,[23][24][25] nonprofit lobbying group. In the weeks leading up to the Gala dinner, those aligned with the Likud, the political party of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized Steve Israel and those supporting J Street. The Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb called the J Street dinner an "anti-Israel bash."[26] In response, Steve Israel's spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton said, "It's absurd that this has become a controversy...The Congressman agreed to be on the gala host committee. That doesn't mean he agrees with every viewpoint of every speaker at the event".[27]

Electoral history

New York election law allows for fusion voting, where a candidate can run as a member of multiple parties. In 2000 Israel ran only as a Democrat in his winning bid for Congress, but since 2002 he has also run as the candidate for the Independence Party and the Working Families Party. In 2000 the Republican candidate ran only as a Republican, but since 2002, every Republican has also run as the candidate for the Conservative Party of New York.

U.S. House, 2nd District of New York (General Election)
Year Winning candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
2000 Steve Israel Democratic 48% Joan B. Johnson Republican 35%
2002 Steve Israel Democratic 58% Joseph P. Finley Republican 40%
2004 Steve Israel Democratic 67% Richard Hoffmann Republican 33%
2006 Steve Israel Democratic 70% John W. Bugler Republican 30%
2008 Steve Israel Democratic 67% Frank J. Stalzer Republican 33%
2010 Steve Israel Democratic 56% John Gomez Republican 43%
2012 Steve Israel Democratic 58%[28] Stephen Labate Republican 42%[28]
2014 Steve Israel Democratic 54%[28] Grant Lally Republican 45%[28]

Personal life

Israel has two adult daughters and is also an author.[5] In 2018, he released his second novel, Big Guns.[29]

The sale of his marital home was and is the subject of some considerable controversy.[30] This is because Israel has received financial contributions from the lenders who gave him a favorable deal on a short sale of his marital home following his second divorce.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Lambert, Bruce (May 21, 2000). "Fight Already On for a House Seat That Could Prove Decisive". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Rick Brand (January 17, 2017). "Steve Israel joins CNN as commentator". Newsday. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  3. ^ "About  Steve Israel". Michael Best Strategies. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Steve Israel (D)". The U.S. Congress Votes Database (The Washington Post). Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "About: Full Biography". Congressman Steve Israel official site. Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Steve Israel Official Congressional Biography
  7. ^ a b Halbfinger, David M. (18 March 2011). "L.I. Congressman Leads Uphill Charge Toward a Democratic House". The New York Times.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Hulse, Carl (5 January 2016). "Steve Israel of New York, a Top House Democrat, Won't Seek Re-election". New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  10. ^ See
  11. ^ Siegel, Jennifer (October 17, 2006). "Carter Book Slaps Israel With 'Apartheid' Tag, Provides Ammo to GOP". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  12. ^ "Why Tuesday? Goes To Washington". July 16, 2009.
  13. ^ McAuliff, Michael (20 October 2011). "Steve Israel Furious At Republican Charge That He Embraces Anti-Semitism In Occupy Wall Street". The Huffington Post.
  14. ^ "Steve Israel to Chair Democratic Campaign Arm". The Atlantic. 19 November 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  16. ^ "Rep. Israel Announces Legislation to Require National Parks to Sell Merchandise 'Made in the USA'". Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  17. ^ Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [D-NY4]. "No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009 (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 2401)". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  18. ^ "Reps. McCarthy and Israel to Stand with Law Enforcement and Announce "No Fly, No Buy" Act Today - Public Statements - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  20. ^ "House votes to renew ban on plastic firearms". 3 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Counting Marriage Equality". June 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  23. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (April 15, 2008). "Jewish Liberals to Launch A Counterpoint to AIPAC". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  24. ^ Eggen, Dan (April 17, 2009). "Year-Old Liberal Jewish Lobby Has Quickly Made Its Mark". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  25. ^ Stockton, Farah (February 27, 2010). "Delahunt's journey to Mideast upended". Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  26. ^ Eggen, Dan (October 25, 2009). "Israel conference to open amid controversy". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  27. ^ "Michael Oren rejects J Street conference invite". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  28. ^ a b c d "New York Election Results - President, Congress, Governor | NBC News". November 5, 2012. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  29. ^ Israel, Steve (November 6, 2018). "Why a Book Tour Is More Brutal Than a Political Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  30. ^ "Steve Israel's fortunate home sale - Editorial". Newsday. 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  31. ^ "Israel's Lenders Gave Thousands To Campaign". The Huntingtonian. 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2014-08-13.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Rick Lazio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Peter King
Preceded by
Peter King
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas Suozzi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chris Van Hollen
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Ben Luján
New office Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
Succeeded by
Cheri Bustos
Succeeded by
David Cicilline
Succeeded by
Hakeem Jeffries
This page was last edited on 24 June 2020, at 02:14
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