Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey represents parts of Westchester County, Queens, and the Bronx in the United States House of Representatives. Lowey was first elected to the House in 1988, and most recently won her campaign for re-election in 2014 after running unopposed.
As a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Lowey has developed a reputation as an extremely effective, committed legislator with a substantial record of accomplishment. Few members of Congress have taken key leadership roles on so many vital public policy issues. She has been called "courageous" by the The New York Times, and recognized by the The New York Daily News as one of "New York's Key Members of Congress." Newsday called her "terrific" and said "she delivers for New York." And Congressional Quarterly cited her as one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress, saying she "maneuvers skillfully through the appropriations process."
Lowey is a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, health care reform and biomedical research, stricter gun control and public safety laws, environmental protections, women's issues, a leading international role for the United States, and federal funding for public television and the arts.
As a former PTA President of PS 178 in Jamaica Estates, Lowey came to Congress determined to improve and reform our nation's schools. She is the author of landmark legislation to provide federal resources for school construction and renovation nationwide, and has been a leader in expanding federal after-school programs so that children receive educational instruction and adult supervision after regular school hours. Lowey is a strong proponent of rigorous educational standards and is fighting to make college tuition tax deductible for New York's families.
Lowey has emerged as 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 double spending on breast cancer research since 1992 and has helped increase overall research at the NIH. She has been repeatedly honored by the National Breast Cancer Coalition for her leadership in the fight against cancer.
Lowey is also a leader in the fight to reform managed care. She has authored 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.
Lowey is committed to making our neighborhoods and streets safer. She was a strong supporter of 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 drunken driving laws. In 1995 Lowey wrote the nation's "Zero Tolerance" law, which makes it illegal for minors to drive with any alcohol in their system. She is also the author of legislation to revoke the license of repeat drunk drivers and establish a national DWI standard of .08 BAC.
As a candidate for Congress in 1988, Nita Lowey pledged to make Long Island Sound cleaner and healthier. In 1990 she passed legislation into law establishing a special Environmental Protection Agency office for Long Island Sound. Since then she has obtained federal funding for local clean-up efforts and has written legislation to improve the area's wastewater treatment infrastructure. Lowey has taken a key role in securing federal support to protect the New York City watershed and has been a national leader in preserving strong environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
As a former Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus and the current Chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Lowey has been widely recognized for her leadership on women's issues. The Washington Post called her "the most prominent abortion rights advocate in Congress," and she has won widespread praise for winning 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.
Lowey is a leading Congressional proponent of a strong U.S. - Israel relationship, and is the Appropriations Committee's chief advocate of the annual U.S. aid package to Israel. She is a longtime champion of human rights, and has taken a key role in fighting for democracy and justice in Northern Ireland, Indonesia, and around the world.
When GOP leaders threatened the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) with elimination, Lowey "invited" muppets Ernie and Bert to a Congressional hearing to make their case for public television. 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 been named to serve on the prestigious National Council for the Arts in recognition of her leadership.
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 37 years and are the proud parents of three grown children and four grandchildren.
Sources: Congressman Nita Lowey