Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (also known as Ileana Ros; is a Cuban-American born as Ileana Ros y Adato July 15, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 18th congressional district, serving since 1989.Her maternal grandparents were Sephardic Jews from Turkey who became active in Cuba’s Jewish community. Her mother converted to Catholicism. She is a member of the Republican Party.
She is currently the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House, and was the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. She is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, effective 2011.
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 and the first Hispanic woman elected to the United States Congress.
A major individual campaign contributor to Ros-Lehtinen is Irving Moskowitz, a funder of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 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".
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."
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.
Ros-Lehtinen generally portrays a pro-military stance. However, during the 2011 Libyan uprising, she expressed support of the Libyan opposition; on February 26, 2011, she released a press release which stated, "stronger penalties must be imposed in order to hold the regime accountable for its heinous crimes, and to prevent further violence against the Libyan people". But on March 20, 2011, the day after the NATO strikes to enforce the no-fly-zone began, she expressed a different view in a 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."
The congresswoman has also 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 also advocates cutting funding to Lebanese Armed Forces and the West Bank and Gaza.
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."
She introduced the bill to cut off US funding to any UN organization that recognises Palestinian statehood. She also advocates cutting funding to the Lebanese Armed Forces and the West Bank and Gaza.
Her major campaign funders was Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman who is a major funder of illegal Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem. The J Street lobby group called on her to return campaign contributions from him because, it said, "he actively works to de-rail the chances for a two-state solution."
She took the lead in demanding that the Obama administration "halt its condemnations of an indispensable ally and friend of the United States."