As Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen finishes out her final months in the House of Representatives, the tributes are rolling in.
And one of those tributes includes a bill named after the first Latina in Congress.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act on Wednesday evening, a bill that authorizes defense and security spending assistance for Israel, long a top priority for the retiring congresswoman who has a large Jewish population in her district. The House is passing an amended version of the bill sponsored by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a one-time Ros-Lehtinen intern.
The bill authorizes $3.3 billion in assistance to Israel over the next 10 years and is a product of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where Ros-Lehtinen has served for decades since entering Congress in 1989. The tribute comes weeks after Congress named the annual defense spending bill after late Arizona Sen. John McCain, which became law two weeks before his death.
Read her remarks to be delivered the House floor later today:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman – this is truly such an unexpected and humbling honor – thanks to you, Ranking Member Engel, and both your teams, for your leadership in bringing this bill to the Floor. Thank you to all the Members and supporters of Israel – we’ve been through a lot together and the U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger because of every single one of your efforts. And a special thank you to my dear friend and colleague, Ted Deutch, the great Ranking Member of our Subcommittee, with whom I’ve had the honor of working so closely on these issues over the past six years."
"As so many of you know, it has been an absolute joy for me to be a part of this distinguished body. To advocate for my constituents, to serve on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to promote American ideals like democracy and human rights, and to help strengthen relationships with our allies abroad.No relationship may be more important than the one we have with the democratic Jewish State of Israel. Israel is an indispensable strategic partner – not just for its protection of U.S. interests – but because of our shared beliefs and values. Values that, after centuries of suffering, have allowed the Jewish people to beat all the odds and develop a country that has become a thriving, global leader. And it only gets more impressive when you consider the neighborhood, one that’s never been more dangerous, and more threatening to Israel, than it is today. For all these reasons, I am so proud to have authored and advocated for the bill before us now."
"This bill authorizes security assistance for Israel, at a minimum, at $3.3 billion dollars, the level agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding, for the next ten years. With this bill, we both have the comfort of knowing that our support for Israel will be ironclad, but it also provides us with the flexibility to modify that support should the threats to Israel increase, and additional support is needed. From drones and emerging threats, to cybersecurity and space, to development cooperation in other countries, the bill also includes a host of other provisions to expand our collaboration in other areas. The U.S.-Israel partnership has never been stronger than it is today and it is my sincere honor to have played a very small part in that. I encourage all my colleagues to support this bill and I thank the Chairman for the time."