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Miami’s ‘big bad she-wolf’ finishes a 29-year run in Congress

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wasn’t sure what to do.

The first Latina in Congress was scheduled to give a speech in front of a prominent Washington think-tank in less than 10 hours, and one sentence was tripping her up. She was unsure of whether or not she should call for Venezuela to be listed as a state sponsor of terror, and she called a former staffer to get his opinion.

But first, she had to wait for cheering patrons in a Washington sports bar to calm down from watching Thursday Night Football.

As she ate wings without sauce and sipped a double rum and Diet Coke at the end of a 17-hour workday that began at 4:30 a.m., Ros-Lehtinen listened to the thoughts of the former staffer, who argued that it was fine to include it. Another staffer pointed out that she already tweeted about listing Venezuela alongside North Korea and Syria as a state sponsor of terror, and the response from Venezuelans was positive.

“The tweets have spoken,” Ros-Lehtinen said, as she scribbled with her pen to update the speech last week.

As Miami’s longest-tenured congresswoman finishes out her final weeks in office, there’s still plenty of work to do. Her bill that would limit U.S. loans to the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega until he carries out democratic reforms passed the U.S. Senate, though it still needs final passage in the House of Representatives and President Donald Trump’s signature. Another bill named in her honor would authorize defense and security spending assistance for Israel, and it has an uncertain fate in the final weeks of this year’s Congress.

More here.