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Lee Michael Zeldin (born January 30, 1980) is an American attorney and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New York's 1st congressional district since 2015. The district includes central and eastern Suffolk County, New York, including most of Smithtown, as well as the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island, New York. A member of the Republican Party, Zeldin previously served as the New York State Senator from the 3rd district from 2011 to 2014.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New York's 1st district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Tim Bishop|
|Member of the New York State Senate|
from the 3rd district
January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2014
|Preceded by||Brian X. Foley|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Croci|
Lee Michael Zeldin
January 30, 1980
East Meadow, New York, U.S.
|Education||State University of New York, Albany (BA)|
Albany Law School (JD)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||2003–2007|
Early life and educationEdit
Zeldin was born in East Meadow, New York, the son of Merrill Schwartz and David Zeldin. He was raised in Shirley, New York, and graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, New York, in 1998. He also attended Hebrew school. He received a bachelor's degree cum laude in political science from the University at Albany in 2001. He then earned a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School in May 2003. In 2004 he was admitted to the New York State Bar.
Military service and legal practiceEdit
Zeldin then received an Army ROTC commission as a Second Lieutenant, and served in the United States Army for four years, from 2003 to 2007. He was assigned first to the Military Intelligence Corps. In summer 2006, he was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, with an infantry battalion of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Zeldin also served as a prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General's Corps and as a military magistrate. In 2007, he transitioned from active duty to the Army Reserve, where he still serves and has attained the rank of major.
In 2007, Zeldin was an attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In 2008, he started a law practice in Smithtown. He operated it full-time until he was elected to New York's 3rd State Senate district in 2010.
New York SenateEdit
In 2010, Zeldin ran in the New York State Senate's 3rd district, challenging Democratic incumbent Brian X. Foley. Zeldin defeated Foley with 58% of the vote. In 2012, he was reelected to a second two-year term, defeating Democrat Francis Genco with 56% of the vote.
In June 2011, Zeldin voted against the Marriage Equality Act, which the Senate passed 33–29. In a statement after the bill passed, he said: "It is my belief that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman."
On January 14, 2013, Zeldin did not vote on the NY SAFE Act, a gun control bill that passed the New York State Senate, 43 votes to 18. In a statement released to the press after the vote, he said he would have voted against the measure.
On October 6, 2013, Zeldin announced he would again seek the Republican nomination to run against Bishop. He defeated George Demos in the Republican Party primary, and ran unopposed for the Conservative Party nomination in the primary on June 24, 2014. On November 4, 2014, Zeldin defeated Bishop with 54% of the vote.
In February 2015, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that Zeldin was one of 12 members in the Patriot Program, a program designed to help protect vulnerable Republican incumbents heading into the 2016 election.
In the 2016 Republican primary, Zeldin faced no opposition. In the November 8 general election, he faced Democrat Anna Throne-Holst, a member of the Southhampton Town Board. Zeldin won with 58% of the vote. He became the only Jewish Republican in Congress, following Representative Eric Cantor’s primary defeat.
For the second consecutive election, Zeldin's campaign sent voters mailers instructing them to postmark their absentee ballots by the wrong date, Nov. 6; the actual deadline is Nov. 5. Zeldin's Democratic opponent Perry Gershon's campaign said the mailers targeted likely Democratic voters, such as college students. Zeldin's campaign said the incorrect date was a mistake and provided a statement from its printer, PDQ Print and Mail, taking responsibility. The campaign said it sent a follow-up mail piece with the correct date.
On November 6, Zeldin defeated Gershon 53%-47%.
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Committee on Financial Services
In July 2015, Zeldin was among nine Republicans who faced criticism after meeting with Oath Keepers, a group of retired military, police, and fire department employees. The New York Daily News reported that "the chapter's website includes postings by a member embracing a film that claims the December 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, and calling President Obama a 'Muslim/Extremist.'"
In March 2016, Zeldin was ranked as the 45th-most-bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th United States Congress (and the eighth-most-bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party, and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).
In April 2015, Zeldin, along with Charles Schumer, the senior United States Senator from New York, introduced the Fluke Fairness Act. The bill would have changed the current system for managing fluke fishing quotas by creating a regional approach to updating quotas and standards based on geographic, scientific, and economic data. The bill did not pass.
On July 15, 2015, Zeldin introduced the Exclusive Economic Zone Clarification Act. The bill proposed to amend the boundary in part of the federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It would give fisheries management of Block Island Sound exclusively to New York and Rhode Island; some Connecticut fishermen said the bill could put them out of business. The bill died in committee.
Also in September 2015, Zeldin, along with Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, condemned a proposed federal plan for dumping of dredged materials, stating: "We can't just assume that dumping these waste spoils in the Long Island Sound is environmentally benign."
Zeldin said in April 2018 that he did not support the Paris Accords in their then-present form. He expressed concern about “other countries that are contributing to very adverse impacts on our climate but not having the level of responsibility that they need to have in stepping up and making a positive change in their own countries.”
In February 2016, Zeldin, along with Republican congressmen Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, sought visas to travel to Iran to check the country's compliance with the Iran nuclear deal framework. In June, Iran called the request a "publicity stunt" and said it would deny the visas.
In May 2015, Zeldin voted for H.R.36, a bill which he co-sponsored, that would prohibit abortions in cases where the probable age of the fetus is 20 weeks or later, and would impose criminal penalties on doctors who violate the ban.
In 2015, Zeldin co-sponsored two bills in Congress that would combat Lyme disease. The bills are the Tick-Borne Disease Research and Accountability and Transparency Act of 2015 and the 21st Century Cures Act.
On September 18, 2015, Zeldin voted for the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood for one year unless the organization agreed to not provide abortion services.
Zeldin has said that Israel is “America’s strongest ally," and that Congress must “protect Israel’s right to self-defense.” In 2016, he spoke in support of the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation that passed the New York State Senate. In March 2017 he co-sponsored a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, to oppose boycotts of Israel and “to further combat the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement." He believes that the Trump administration’s relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018 as part of the United States recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel was the correct move.
As a New York state senator in 2011, Zeldin voted against the Marriage Equality Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in the state. In June 2015, after the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, Zeldin would not comment about his view of same-sex marriage, but indicated that he believed the issue should have been decided at the state level. A month later, he signed on as a co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill whose supporters said was designed to protect Americans who used their religious beliefs to deny services to same sex couples or unmarried pregnant women. Critics of the measure said it would enable people to violate the legal rights of same-sex couples and their children by discriminating against them.
Appearing on NPR in November 2017, Zeldin said he was not yet satisfied with the proposed Republican tax bill. He complained in particular about the elimination of the state and local tax deduction. That same month, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan canceled plans to attend a fundraiser for Zeldin after the latter voted against the House version of the bill. In December, Zeldin called the tax bill “a geographic redistribution of wealth” that takes money from some states while providing tax relief to others. He suggested that the removal of the state tax deduction could have been implemented gradually.
Zeldin voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which passed in December 2017. He supported the corporate tax cuts in the bill but did not approve of the limit for property tax deductions, preferring a cap of $20,000 or $25,000 as opposed to the $10,000 that was in the bill.
On May 3, 2016, Zeldin endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. Zeldin had previously indicated that he would support the eventual Republican nominee. During the campaign, Zeldin faulted Trump for a comment about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star family whose son Humayun, a Captain in the Army, was killed during the Iraq War, but stated he would continue to support Trump.
In 2017, Zeldin supported Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying it offered the FBI a chance at a "fresh start" to rebuild trust. In May 2018, Zeldin called for the criminal prosecution of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. That same month, Zeldin also called for creating a special counsel investigation into the FBI and the DOJ regarding those agencies' investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Zeldin said that the investigations into Russian interference were launched with "insufficient intelligence and biased motivations", with surveillance warrants for Trump campaign staffers being obtained in "deeply flawed and questionable" ways. Zeldin also called for an investigation into the FBI decision to conclude its investigation into the Hillary Clinton email controversy.
During the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, Zeldin voted with the Republican caucus against the controversial appropriations measure to fund the federal government. He instructed the House to withhold his pay until the shutdown ended, saying: “It’s crazy to me that members of Congress get paid while other federal employees do not.”
In February 2015, Zeldin introduced his first bill, to eliminate the dollar limit for loans that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs can guarantee for a veteran. In February 2016, Zeldin proposed federal legislation that would fund a three-year, $25-million nationwide veterans peer support program modeled on one he helped establish while a member of the New York State Senate.
Zeldin is Jewish, and his wife, Diana, is Mormon. The couple has identical twin daughters, Mikayla and Arianna. They live in Shirley, New York. The family joined B’nai Israel Reform Temple.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lee Zeldin|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lee Zeldin.|
- Congressman Lee Zeldin official U.S. House site
- Zeldin for Congress official campaign site
- Lee Zeldin at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|New York State Senate|
Brian X. Foley
| Member of the New York Senate
from the 3rd district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 1st congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority