Lowey was born in the Bronx on July 5, 1937, 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.
Lowey was first elected to the House in 1988, and most recently won her campaign for re-election in 2018. Lowey represents parts of Westchester County, Queens, and the Bronx.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Nita and Stephen Lowey have been married for 37 years and are the proud parents of three grown children and four grandchildren.