Forward Thinking

Jewish Lawmakers Move Up Ladder

By Nathan Guttman

getty images
Eliot Engel

Two Jewish lawmakers are moving up the ranks in the House of Representatives.

New York’s Nita Lowey won the role of top Democrat on the House Appropriations committee and will be the first woman to ever serve as ranking member on this committee. “It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead either party on this powerful committee,” Lowey said in a statement. She beat Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur in a 36-10 vote in the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and was approved by the Democratic caucus. The appropriations committee is one of the most influential committees on Capitol Hill and serving as ranking member will make Lowey a significant player on all issues relating to government spending.

Lowey, 75, will continue, in addition, to serve as ranking member of the appropriation’s subcommittee in charge of foreign aid and State Department budget. This position is key to supporters of Israel because of its role in overseeing U.S. aid to Israel.

Another New York Jewish member, Eliot Engel, is also moving up. Engel will serve as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a position previously held by Howard Berman, who lost his re-election bid.

The selection of Engel, who is third in tenure among Democrats in the committee, came after California’s Brad Sherman, an early contender for the position, withdrew from the race. Sherman, who had beaten Berman in a heated congressional contest, lost favor among some in his own party after criticizing them during his race. After the elections, several Democrats from the California delegation made clear they will not support his bid for the post of ranking Democrat and Sherman was forced to withdraw and endorse Engel.

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