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Rashida Harbi Tlaib (/təˈlb/;[1] born July 24, 1976) is an American politician and lawyer serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district since 2019.[2] The district includes the western half of Detroit, along with several of its western suburbs and much of the Downriver area.

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib on Voice of America.jpg
Rashida Tlaib interviewed by Voice of America in 2018
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byBrenda Jones
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 6th district
12th district (2009–2012)
In office
January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2014
Preceded bySteve Tobocman
Succeeded byStephanie Chang
Personal details
Rashida Harbi

(1976-07-24) July 24, 1976 (age 42)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Fayez Tlaib
(m. 1998; div. 2015)
EducationWayne State University (BA)
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

A member of the Democratic Party, Tlaib represented the 6th and 12th districts of the Michigan House of Representatives before her election to Congress.[3] She was the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature.[4]

In 2018, Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the United States House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She ran unopposed in the general election and became the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, alongside Ilhan Omar (D-MN).[5][6] She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and, along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of two DSA members currently serving in the House of Representatives.[7]


Early life and education

The eldest of 14 children, Rashida Harbi was born on July 24, 1976, to working-class Palestinian immigrants in Detroit. Her mother was born in Beit Ur El Foka, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Her father was born in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. He moved first to Nicaragua, then to Detroit, where he worked on an assembly line in a Ford Motor Company plant. As the eldest, Tlaib played a role in raising her siblings while her parents worked but sometimes relied on welfare for support.[8]

Rashida Tlaib attended elementary school at Harms, Bennett Elementary and Phoenix Academy. She graduated from Southwestern High School in Detroit in 1994, and from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1998. She earned a Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School in 2004.[9]

Earlier political career

Tlaib began her political career in 2004, when she took an internship with State Representative Steve Tobocman. When Tobocman became Majority Floor Leader in 2007, he recruited Tlaib to be on his staff.[10][11]

Michigan House of Representatives

In 2008, Tobocman encouraged Tlaib to run for his seat, which he was vacating due to term limits. The urban district is 40% Hispanic, 25% African-American, 30% non-Hispanic white, and 2% Arab American. Tlaib faced a crowded primary that included several Latinos, including former State Representative Belda Garza. Tlaib emerged victorious, carrying 44% of the vote in the eight-way Democratic primary. Tlaib won the general election with over 90% of the vote.[12]

In 2010, Tlaib faced a primary election challenge from Jim Czachorowski in his first bid for office.[13] Tlaib picked up 85% of the vote, to Czachorowski's 15%. Tlaib also won the general election with 92% of the vote against Republican challenger Darrin Daigle.

In 2012, Tlaib won reelection again to the Michigan House in the newly redrawn 6th District against fellow incumbent Maureen Stapleton. She could not run for the Michigan House a fourth time in 2014 because of term limits and ran for the Michigan Senate, losing to incumbent Senator Virgil Smith Jr. in the Democratic primary in August 2014.

During her tenure as a legislator, Tlaib was one of ten Muslims serving in state legislatures across the United States. She is the second Muslim to serve in the Michigan State House of Representatives, after James Karoub. Tlaib is the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri.[14] She and Justin Amash, a Republican who was also elected in 2008, were the first two Palestinian-American members of the Michigan legislature.

After leaving the state legislature, Tlaib worked at Sugar Law Center, a Detroit nonprofit that provides free legal representation for workers.[15]

U.S. House of Representatives

Rashida Tlaib at her campaign headquarters in 2018
2018 Special Election

In 2018, Tlaib announced her intention to run for John Conyers's seat in Congress. She filed in both the Democratic primary in the special election for the balance of Conyers's 27th term, and in the general election for a full two-year term. Both elections were to be held the same day. No Republican qualified for either primary, but the 13th is so heavily Democratic that any Republican would have faced nearly impossible odds. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+33, the 13th is the most Democratic district in Michigan and tied for the 20th-most Democratic district in the nation. Conyers held the seat without serious difficulty from 1965 until his resignation in 2017 (it was numbered as the 1st from 1965 to 1993 and as the 14th from 1993 to 2013), and never won with less than 77 percent of the vote.

As of July 16, 2018, Tlaib had raised $893,030 in funds, more than her five opponents in the August 7 Democratic primary.[16]

Tlaib finished second in the Democratic primary for the special election to Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who received 32,727 votes (37.7% of the total) to Tlaib's 31,084 (35.9%). Bill Wild, mayor of Westland, received 13,152 votes (15.2%) and Ian Conyers, the great-nephew of former Congressman Conyers, took fourth with 9,740 (11.2%).[17] Jones faced no major-party opposition in the special election.

2018 general election

In the Democratic primary for the general election, Tlaib defeated Jones and Wild, among others.[18] She received 27,803 votes, or 31.2%. She faced no major-party opposition in November 2018, though Jones mounted an eleventh-hour independent bid.

Tlaib became the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and simultaneously one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, along with fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.[5] Tlaib took the congressional oath of office on January 3, 2019, swearing in on an English-language translation of the Quran.[19][20] She wore a thawb, a traditional embroidered Palestinian dress. This inspired a number of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe.[21]

Political positions


Tlaib, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, aligns politically with the left wing of the Democratic Party.[22][23]

Domestic policy

She supports domestic reforms, including "Medicare For All" (single-payer healthcare) and a $15 per hour minimum wage.[24]


Tlaib was a strong, early supporter of the movement to abolish the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency.[22]

Israel and Palestine

Tlaib supports a one-state solution;[25][26] "It has to be one state", she has said; two states for two peoples "does not work."[25] She opposes United States aid to Israel.[27][26]

Tlaib changed her position on Israel after winning the Democratic primary in her district on August 7, 2018.[25][27][26] Before the primary, she voiced support for a two-state solution as well as "aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, particularly to fund initiatives that foster peace", and was endorsed by J Street.[25] But in an August 2018 interview with the magazine In These Times, she said she opposed providing aid to a "Netanyahu Israel" and supported the Palestinian right of return and a one-state solution. As a result, J Street withdrew its endorsement of her candidacy in the general election.[28][29]

Tlaib is one of the few members of Congress who openly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. In January 2019, she criticized anti-BDS legislation proposed by Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch. Tlaib argued that boycotting is a right and said that Rubio and Risch "forgot what country they represent"; the statement was accused of invoking the anti-Semitic canard of dual loyalty.[30][31][32][33]

Trump administration

Tlaib is critical of President Donald Trump. In August 2016, a military veteran who supported then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave Trump his Purple Heart and Trump responded, "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier."[34] Trump did not serve due to student deferments and bone spurs.[35][36] On August 8, 2016, Tlaib attended a speech Trump gave at Cobo Center and asked him to return the Purple Heart, saying that Trump had not earned the medal. Tlaib was then ejected from the venue.[37]

Tlaib supports efforts to impeach President Trump. On her first day in Congress, January 3, 2019, she called for the impeachment of Trump in an op-ed article co-authored with John Bonifaz for the Detroit Free Press.[38] In the op-ed, Tlaib differs from top Democratic leaders on how to move forward with impeachment: "Those who say we must wait for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his criminal investigation before Congress can start any impeachment proceedings ignore this crucial distinction [referring to Congressional powers of impeachment]."[39] Later that day, Tlaib attended a reception for the MoveOn campaign and spoke on stage. She ended the speech recounting a conversation she had with her son, him saying: "Look, mama, you won. Bullies don't win." Tlaib replied to him, she recounted: "And I said, 'Baby, they don't, because we're gonna go in there and impeach the motherfucker'."[40] The next day at a White House press conference, Trump said, "Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job...I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family. I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America."[41][42]

In a radio interview with Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept, Tlaib reiterated her frequent call for Trump's impeachment, saying, "Look, it’s not a waste of time to hold the president of the United States accountable", and "We need to understand our duties as members of Congress and I believe looking at even Nixon’s impeachment, or his—literally, his resignation, it was Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting country first, coming together and putting our values first. You’re seeing it now more and more. Even now, they’re standing up to Steve King."[43]

Personal life

In 1998, at the age of 22, Tlaib married Fayez Tlaib. They have two sons, Adam and Yousif. They have since divorced. In 2018, a campaign spokesperson called Tlaib a single mother.[44]

In September 2018, The New York Times reported Tlaib walked into her family's mosque to express her gratitude for the opportunity to run for Congress by saying "Today I was being thankful, embracing how incredibly blessed I am to grow up here, to have this tremendous opportunity...Sometimes I say ‘Thank her’ because my Allah is She.”[45] The Detroit Free Press reported many in her faith community consider her not "Muslim enough."[46] Tlaib says that she does believe in Allah, but that she believes that Allah is female, adding, "As long as she knows that I am giving back and doing things that I think are reflective of Islam.”[47]

Electoral history

  • 2008 campaign for State House
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 90%
    • Darrin Daigle (R), 10%
  • 2008 campaign for State House, Democratic Primary
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 44%
    • Carl Ramsey (D), 26%
    • Belda Garza (D), 9%
    • Daniel Solano (D), 7%
    • Lisa Randon (D), 7%
    • Denise Hearn (D), 5%
    • Rochelle Smith (D), 1%
    • Nellie Saenz (D), 1%
  • 2010 campaign for State House, Democratic Primary
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 85%
    • Jim Czachorowski (D), 15%
  • 2010 campaign for State House
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 92%
    • Darrin Daigle (R), 8%
  • 2014 campaign for State Senate, Democratic Primary
    • Virgil Smith (D), 50%
    • Rashida Tlaib (D), 42%
    • Howard Worthy (D), 8%
Democratic primary results, 2018 Michigan's 13th congressional district special election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brenda Jones 32,727 37.7
Democratic Rashida Tlaib 31,084 35.9
Democratic Bill Wild 13,152 15.2
Democratic Ian Conyers 9,740 11.2
Total votes 86,703 100.0
Democratic primary results, 2018 United States House of Representatives elections in Michigan § District 13
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rashida Tlaib 27,803 31.2
Democratic Brenda Jones 26,916 30.2
Democratic Bill Wild 12,589 14.1
Democratic Coleman Young II 11,162 12.5
Democratic Ian Conyers 5,861 6.6
Democratic Shanelle Jackson 4,848 5.3
Total votes 89,179 100.0

See also


  1. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 9, 2018). "How Detroit's Rashida Tlaib will make history in Washington". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  2. ^ "Member Profile". State Bar of Michigan. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Schallhorn, Kaitlyn (August 8, 2018). "Meet Rashida Tlaib, who is poised to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress". Fox News. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Herndon, Astead W. (August 8, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib, With Primary Win, Is Poised to Become First Muslim Woman in Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  6. ^ "With primary win, Rashida Tlaib set to become first Palestinian-American congresswoman". Haaretz. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. ^ "There Will Now Likely Be Two Democratic Socialists of America Members in Congress". The Daily Beast. August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (December 14, 2008). "Disparate backgrounds source of bond". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. — Full version at the blog of Niraj Warikoo
  9. ^ Graduates Holding Public Office Cooley Law School. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "Dem would be first Muslim woman in Congress, if elected". The Detroit News. February 6, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  11. ^ Holcomb, Anne (November 6, 2008). "Rashida Tlaib is first Muslim woman to be elected to Michigan Legislature". Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  12. ^ "Protected Blog". Feet in 2 Worlds. The New School. August 8, 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  13. ^ Meyer, Nick (August 6, 2010). "Snyder, Bernero to face off in November". The Arab American News. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Coats, Christopher (December 28, 2008). "Rashida Tlaib, First Muslim Woman to Become a Michigan State Representative". Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  15. ^ O'Brien, Maeve (March 15, 2018). "24 hours with: Rashida Tlaib, potential first Muslim congresswoman". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  16. ^ Spangler, Todd (July 16, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib, Bill Wild lead fundraising in Detroit's congressional race". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  17. ^ "Michigan House District 13 Special Primary Election Results". The New York Times. August 7, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  18. ^ "Michigan Primary Election Results: 13th House District". Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  19. ^ Using a Quran to swear in to Congress: A brief history of oaths and texts, Pacific Standard, Jack Herrera, January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  20. ^ Two reps were sworn in on the Quran. It's a symbolic moment for Muslim Americans, Public Radio International, Tania Karas, January 3, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Karen Zrarick (January 3, 2018). "As Rashida Tlaib Is Sworn In, Palestinian-Americans Respond With #TweetYourThobe". The New York Times.
  22. ^ a b Robinson, Derek (August 10, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib Is the Left's Way Forward". Politico. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  23. ^ Kelly, Erin (August 8, 2018). "Six things about Rashida Tlaib, who will likely become first Muslim woman in Congress". USA Today. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  24. ^ Diaz, Elizabeth (August 14, 2018). "For Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian Heritage Infuses a Detroit Sense of Community". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d Benedek, Emily (December 19, 2018). "The Charismatic Female Stars of the New American Left". Tablet. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  26. ^ a b c Siegel, Jacob (August 16, 2018). "Did J Street Get Played? After getting J Street's endorsement, Rashida Tlaib changed her mind about the two-state solution". Tablet. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  27. ^ a b Dean, Yvette (August 14, 2018). "Palestinian U.S. Congresswoman-to-be vows to vote against Israel aid". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  28. ^ Vande Panne, Valerie (August 14, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib on Democratic Socialism and Why She Supports the Palestinian Right of Return". In These Times. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  29. ^ Fractenberg, Ben (August 17, 2018). "J Street Retracts Endorsement Of Female Muslim". The Forward. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  30. ^ Kampeas, Ron (January 8, 2019). "Rashida Tlaib Responds to anti-Semitism Accusations Tlaib was accused of anti-Semitism for tweet blasting anti-BDS bill supporters, claiming, 'They forgot what country they represent'". Haaretz. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  31. ^ "Marco Rubio calls Rashida Tlaib's jibe on anti-BDS bill 'anti-Semitic'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  32. ^ Tibon, Amir (January 8, 2019). "U.S. Jewish Groups Strike Back at Rashida Tlaib: 'Tell Us More About Dual-loyalty'". Haaretz. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  33. ^ Wilner, Michael (January 8, 2018). "Tlaib Says She Was Accusing Senators, Not Jews, of Dual Loyalties". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  34. ^ Engel, Pamela. "Trump to vet who gave him his medal: 'I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier'". Business Insider. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  35. ^ Eder, Steve; Philipps, Dave (August 1, 2016). "Donald Trump's Draft Deferments: Four for College, One for Bad Feet". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  36. ^ New York Times: Daughters of foot doctor say he diagnosed Trump with bone spurs as 'favor' to Fred Trump, CNN, Veronica Stracqualursi, December 26, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  37. ^ Protesters forcibly removed after disrupting Donald Trump speech in Detroit, Mlive, Gus Burns, August 8, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  38. ^ Birnbaum, Emily (January 3, 2019). "Rashida Tlaib calls to impeach Trump on her first day in Congress". TheHill. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  39. ^ Birnbaum, Emily (January 3, 2019). "Rashida Tlaib calls to impeach Trump on her first day in Congress". TheHill. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  40. ^ AM, Donica Phifer On 1/4/19 at 1:28 (January 4, 2019). "Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib refers to Donald Trump in speech, tells crowd 'we' will 'impeach this motherf---er'". Newsweek. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  41. ^ C-SPAN, President Trump on impeachment comments from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (C-SPAN), retrieved January 5, 2019
  42. ^ Mike DeBonis, John Wagner (January 4, 2019). "'You can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job,' Trump says after Democrat's viral remark". Washington Post.
  43. ^ Rashida Tlaib Interview: When Do We "Impeach the Motherf*cker?", The Intercept, Mehdi Hasan, January 17, 2019. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  44. ^ Prengel, Kate (August 8, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib: Is She Married? Is She Divorced? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  45. ^ Dias, Elizabeth (2018-08-14). "For Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian Heritage Infuses a Detroit Sense of Community". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  46. ^ "How Detroit's Rashida Tlaib will make history in Washington". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  47. ^ "How Detroit's Rashida Tlaib will make history in Washington". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2019-01-20.

External links