Nita M. Lowey
House, New York , District #18
222 Mamaroneck Ave., #310
White Plains, New York 10605
Home Town: Bronx, NY
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey is currently serving her ninth term in Congress, representing parts of Westchester and Rockland counties. She was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988 and has served in the Democratic Leadership. Lowey was the first woman and the first New Yorker to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leading the organization from 2001 to 2002.
Lowey has been described as "courageous" by The New York Times, "terrific" by Newsday, and one of "New York's key Members of Congress" by the New York Daily News. The Journal News called Lowey "one of the most influential Members of Congress."
As a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and the Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Subcommittee, Lowey is as an extremely effective, committed legislator with a substantial record. Congressional Quarterly called her one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress, saying she "aneuvers skillfully through the appropriations process," and Newsday said she "delivers for New York."
Few members of Congress have taken key leadership roles on so many vital public policy issues. Lowey is a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, health care quality and biomedical research, stricter gun control and public safety laws, environmental protection, women's issues, a leading international role for the United States, and national security.
In 2003, she was chosen by her colleagues to serve on the Select Committee on Homeland Security. An outspoken supporter of federalizing air and nuclear security and increasing port and rail security, Lowey was recognized by the New York Post as "a key general in the battle to rebuild New York" for her leadership in securing over $20 billion for recovery efforts after September 11, 2001. Lowey has obtained millions in federal funds to develop local bioterrorism response plans and to provide local first responders with interoperable communication devices, rescue equipment, and personal protective gear.
Lowey is known as a strong advocate for women, children, and families. She has been a champion of education since her election to the House, fighting for school modernization, teacher development, and literacy programs. Under Lowey's leadership, federal funding for after-school programs has increased from $1 million in 1996 to $1 billion today. Lowey supported monumental education reform, the No Child Left Behind Act, and is working to fully fund the bill's initiatives.
When GOP leaders threatened to eliminate the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Lowey "invited" muppets Bert and Ernie to a Congressional hearing. The resulting worldwide publicity is largely credited with saving the agency. Lowey has been equally stalwart in her defense of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and has served on the prestigious National Council for the Arts in recognition of her leadership.
Lowey is one of the Appropriations Committee's leading advocates of increased federal investments in biomedical research on diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's at the National Institutes of Health. Called a "champion of increased funding for breast cancer research" by the Washington Post, Lowey has helped increase NIH's budget for cancer research by more than five times and received multiple honors from the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
After hearing from numerous constituents about the difficulty food-allergic consumers have reading product labels, Lowey authored the first-ever bill mandating clear, concise food allergen labeling. Her legislation was passed in 2004 and because of her work, in 2006, all products will be required to state in clear English if they contain any of the eight most common food allergens. The New York Times stated that the legislation is "an all too rare example" of bipartisan cooperation to serve the public good.
Lowey has also fought to improve health care by authoring a bill to ensure that women in managed care plans have direct access to their ob-gyns and is a strong supporter of legislation to guarantee that doctors and patients -- not insurance companies -- make decisions about appropriate care.
A strong public safety advocate, Lowey strongly supported the Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Ban, and is now working to ban the sale of handguns like the "Saturday Night Special." Lowey was named Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD) "Legislator of the Year" for her work to strengthen our nation's drunk driving laws. In 1995, Lowey wrote the nation's "Zero Tolerance" law, which made it illegal for minors to drive after consuming any alcohol, and she led the effort that established a national DWI standard of .08 BAC in 2000. She is the author of legislation to prevent repeat drunk driving offenses.
As a candidate for Congress in 1988, Lowey pledged to clean up the Long Island Sound. In 1990 she passed legislation establishing a special Environmental Protection Agency office for Long Island Sound. She has obtained millions of dollars in federal funding for local clean-up efforts and has written legislation to improve the area's wastewater treatment infrastructure. One of the founders of the Hudson River Caucus, Lowey has taken a key role in protecting the Hudson River, Long Island Sound and New York City watershed and preserving strong environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
Lowey, former Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus and the House Pro-Choice Caucus, has been called "the most prominent abortion rights advocate in Congress" by The Washington Post. She won widespread praise for passage of her bill to ensure that insurance companies cover prescription contraceptives for federal employees. Lowey established the Congressional Advisory Panel to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to encourage abstinence and responsibility among teens. She has also been a leader in the fight against domestic violence, securing record increases in federal funding for battered women's shelters.
On the Appropriations Committee, Lowey has worked to ensure that national security and the war on terrorism are priorities in our foreign aid policy. She has championed efforts to identify and shut down terrorists' financial networks and is a co-chair of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Financing Task Force. Lowey has been a leading Congressional proponent of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and the Appropriations Committee's chief advocate of the annual U.S. aid package to Israel, called by the Forward "one of the engines of pro-Israel activity on Capitol Hill." A longtime champion of human rights and enhancing the role of women in development, Lowey has taken a key role in fighting for democracy and justice in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, and around the world.
Lowey was born in the Bronx; graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, where she was the senior class president; and received a Bachelor's Degree from Mount Holyoke College. She served as Assistant Secretary of State for the State of New York before being elected to Congress. Nita and Stephen Lowey have been married for over 40 years and have three grown children and seven grandchildren.