Peter Roskam

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Peter Roskam
NEW Roskam Official Headshot.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Henry Hyde
House Republican Chief Deputy Whip
In office
January 3, 2011 – August 1, 2014
Preceded by Kevin McCarthy
Succeeded by Patrick McHenry
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 48th district
In office
January 15, 2000 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Beverly Fawell
Succeeded by Randy Hultgren
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 40th district
In office
January 13, 1993 – January 12, 1998
Preceded by Daniel Cronin
Succeeded by Randy Hultgren
Personal details
Born (1961-09-13) September 13, 1961 (age 55)
Hinsdale, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Roskam
Alma mater University of Illinois (B.A.)
Chicago-Kent College of Law (J.D.)

Peter James Roskam /ˈrɒskəm/ (born September 13, 1961) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 6th congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party and served as the Chief Deputy Majority Whip from 2011 to 2014, ranking fourth among House Republican leaders. He has also served in the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives. He currently serves as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Roskam was born in Hinsdale, Illinois. He was the fourth of five children and was raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, graduating from Glenbard West High School. Roskam received his B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

In 1984, Roskam taught history and government at All Saints High School in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. From 1985 to 1986, Roskam served as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX),[1] and from 1986 to 1987 as a legislative assistant to Congressman Henry Hyde.[1][2] In the late 1980s, Roskam served as the Executive Director of Educational Assistance Ltd., a scholarship program for disadvantaged children founded by his father in 1982.[3] In 1992, Roskam was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, serving from 1993 to 1999. In 2000, he was appointed by DuPage County Republican leaders to replace the retiring Beverly Fawell[4] in the Illinois State Senate where he served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Roskam resides in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Elizabeth and their four children.

Roskam was a partner in the law firm Salvi, Roskam & Maher, a personal injury firm. He was named "Best Oral Advocate" by the American College of Trial Lawyers. The firm, now called Salvi & Maher, is politically notable because former Republican Senate candidate Al Salvi and former Republican House candidate Kathy Salvi are also partners in the firm. The Chicago Tribune noted that Roskam earned over $615,000 in 2005 as a personal injury trial lawyer.[5]

After his parents took a trip to Vietnam and saw American veterans' dog tags for sale on the street, Roskam, along with his parents worked to return the dog tags to their owners or the families of the deceased.[6]

Illinois General Assembly[edit]

Roskam served in the Illinois General Assembly as a Representative from 1993 to 1998, and Senator from 2000 to 2006. In the Senate, Roskam served as the Republican Whip, the Republican spokesman on the Executive Committee, and a member of the Rules Committee, Environment and Energy Committee, Insurance and Pensions Committee, and Judiciary Committee. In the Senate, Roskam sponsored legislation giving the Supreme Court of Illinois authority to reverse a death penalty sentence, has sponsored legislation increasing the penalties for repeat D.U.I. offenders, and was the lead sponsor of a law to maintain courts' power to hold deadbeat parents in contempt to ensure child support.[2] Roskam has authored or co-authored fourteen bills to cut taxes.[7]

Roskam asked the Illinois Comptroller's office for a list of state employees in 1998, when Al Salvi was running for Illinois Secretary of State . At the time, Roskam told the Chicago Tribune that the request was for personal use. However, according to a report in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Roskam gave the list to Salvi, who used the list to send numbered campaign fundraising tickets to state employees. The numbering allowed the campaign to keep track of who contributed and who didn't.[8]

In January 2005, Roskam fought amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation on the grounds that it would require churches and religious organizations to hire homosexuals.[9] However, the act contains an explicit exemption for churches and religious organizations.[10] The Illinois Senate passed the amendment 30-27-1[11] and on January 1, 2006, Illinois became the 16th state to have such a law.[12]

In November 2004, Roskam voted against State Comptroller Dan Hynes's $1 billion proposal to raise taxes on cosmetic surgery to fund stem cell research.[13] The proposal was defeated 29-28-1 in the Illinois Senate.[14][15]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Roskam attends a Memorial Day service in the 6th district.

Congressman Peter Roskam served as Chief Deputy Whip in the 112th Congress,[16] ranking fourth among house Republican leaders.[17]

He and Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords were periodically interviewed together on NPR's All Things Considered during their first term as to their experiences as freshmen members of Congress.[18]

On February 22, 2017, Crain's Chicago Business reported that Roskam was one of three Illinois congressional members to receive pension benefits from the State of Illinois while collecting a paycheck as a member of the U.S. House, and began collecting $37,452 in annual pension benefits.[19]

Committee assignments[edit]

House Ethics Probe and Subsequent Ethics Vote[edit]

On July 26, 2013, the House Committee on Ethics released a public statement that Roskam was under investigation by the Committee, regarding allegations that a 2011 trip to Taiwan with his wife was improperly financed by the Taiwanese government. These allegations included concerns that Roskam's daughter, who was living in Taiwan at the time, joined the $24,000 trip.[20][21][22][23] The case was closed in November 2013 citing "insufficient evidence" of wrongdoing.

On Jan 2, 2017, Roskam vocally supported a measure to eliminate the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, placing it under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee,[24] a measure that some described as dissolving the office.[25][26] The Crain's Chicago Business editorial board criticized him for his efforts to place the Office of Congressional Ethics under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee, as he had previously been the subject of an ethics investigation.[27]

Criticism over early-2017 townhall meetings[edit]

After being re-elected to 115th Congress, Roskam refused to meet with voters at public town hall events, citing his desire to avoid a "circus" atmosphere.[28] He came under criticism after canceling a scheduled meeting with constituents to discuss the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act when they arrived at his office accompanied by reporters.[29] On February 4, 2017, Roskam met with the Palatine Township Republican Organization, where he was greeted by hundreds of protesters, and resorted to leaving the meeting through a back door under police escort.[30][better source needed] On February 15, 2017, Roskam held a "tele-town hall," which drew 18,000 callers, but many reported poor connections and dropped calls. The teleconference was organized and held by Roskam's campaign office and required participants to register through his campaign website, which solicited donations from registrants.[31] A Twitter campaign sponsored by the Democratic Party referred to as "Where's Roskam?" emerged in response to his lack of access to constituents.[32]

Political positions[edit]

Roskam attends the opening of the first Hydrogen fueling station in Illinois.[33]

As of February 18, 2017, Roskam has voted with his party in 98% of votes in the 115th United States Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 100% of the votes.[34][35]


Roskam opposes abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk, making no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.[36][37]


Roskam opposes the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, accusing the Obama administration of "appeasement" and saying that the restoration of American-Cuban relations "rewards and legitimizes the Castros' decades of repressive, dictatorial rule."[38] Roskam also criticized the 2014 agreement that led to the release of U.S. government contractor Alan Gross from Cuban captivity in exchange for the release of three Cubans imprisoned in the U.S. for espionage, calling it a "dangerous mistake."[38]

Donald Trump's tax returns[edit]

In February 2017, while serving on the Ways and Means Committee, Roskam voted against a measure that would have led to a request of the Treasury Department for U.S. President Donald Trump's tax returns.[39] The measure failed 23-15 on a party-line, with all 23 Republicans voting against the measure.[39] Trump is the first president to break the precedent started by Richard Nixon of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns.[39] The tax returns would shed light on Trump's financial ties and conflicts of interest.[39]


In March 2007, Roskam announced a $3 million Department of Energy grant to the Des Plaines-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI).[40] In June 2007, Roskam supported a bill (H. R. 2619) to authorize $2.5 million per year for 2009-2011 to establish and operate an ethanol anti-idling power unit research program. Roskam noted that GTI would be eligible for the grant[41] as would any other 501(c)(3) organization that "has performed energy-related research". No further action was taken on the bill in 2007 after it was referred to Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation in mid June.[42]

Later, Roskam voted against legislation boosting automobile fuel economy requirements to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The bill also encouraged the use of renewable fuels.[43] On June 24, 2008, Roskam voted against H.R. 6346: The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. The bill failed when it was voted on following a suspension of normal rules to stop debate and it required a 2/3 vote to pass.[44][45] Opponents of the bill said that price gouging is not widespread and that it is difficult to prove that it occurred.[46] Roskam stated he voted against the bill as a protection of the free market.[47]

Roskam, with Rep. John Shimkus, has proposed the Energy VISION Act that promises to all-but end America's foreign energy addiction within 15 years. According to the Baltimore Sun, "The plan mixes conservation and alternative fuel production with aggressive domestic energy exploration, including drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and opening vast swaths of land to oil shale development." [48]


In 2006, Roskam called climate science "junk science".[49][50][51] In 2013, the League of Conservation Voters gave Roskam an environmental rating of 4%, and a lifetime rating of 10%.[52] In 2005, he received a 67% rating from the Illinois Environmental Council. In 2004 he scored 100%, while in 2003 he scored 40%.[53]

Gun policy[edit]

Roskam sponsored an Illinois state Senate bill which would have allowed retired military and police personnel to carry concealed weapons. He has gained National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsement for being a supporter of gun rights. On July 15, 2006, Roskam was the featured guest at an NRA support rally for him in Addison, Illinois.[54]


Roskam is in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[55]

In his first year in Congress, Roskam secured "more than $50 million federal dollars…to expand health care facilities and programs and improve traffic congestion." This included $195,000 to fund the expansion of the new emergency room at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights and $243,000 to expand mental health programs at the Access Community Health Network’s Martin T. Russo Family Health Center in Bloomingdale.[56][57]

On September 25, 2007, Roskam voted with the majority of his party against expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This bill would have increased funding for the program to $60 billion over the next five years and provided health insurance for 9 million uninsured American children (including those whose families made up to $83,000 a year and had access to insurance through their jobs). The bill passed Congress but was vetoed by President Bush.[58]


When U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and suspend the entry of foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, Roskam said the "implementation was bumpy" but he supports "the underlying theme."[59]

In interviews on National Public Radio, Roskam stated his opposition to the Senate's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 and stated support for the House immigration reform bill, H.R. 4437 the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. During the interviews he claimed his constituency did not support amnesty and wanted stronger border security.[60][61]


Roskam was an adamant opponent of the 2015 internal nuclear agreement with Iran, saying that he viewed it as important to fight the agreement in every possible way.[62]

He and then-fellow U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo successfully pressured House Republican leadership to hold a vote on whether to approve the Iran agreement, rather than an originally planned vote on a "resolution of disapproval" against the agreement,[63] in a bid to "force Democrats to assert their support for the contentious accord, a vote Republicans hope will be more politically costly than the originally planned vote on a resolution disapproving of the nuclear deal."[62]

In 2016, Roskam opposed the Treasury Department's grant of a license to Airbus and Boeing to deliver planes contracted for by Iran Air. Roskam said that Congress would attempt to stymie the aviation agreements by making delivery of the aircraft difficult and expensive.[64]

Iraq War[edit]

On September 21, 2006, Roskam said that the U.S. should "stay the course" and that U.S. troops should not return home until Iraq is safe.[65] He criticized his opponent Tammy Duckworth (an Iraq veteran)'s views on withdrawal, saying "the Sixth District is not a cut-and-run district." On October 23, 2006, Roskam said it was a mistake the U.S. didn't go in with full force in Iraq. Later, Roskam expressed support for quarterly status reports to Congress on Iraqi troop training.[66]

Roskam supported the 2007 escalation in troops in Iraq, saying, "There are encouraging reports coming out of Iraq that Baghdad is becoming more secure, and the insurgency is being mitigated. This is a pivotal time. Iraqis need to seize this opportunity to provide security for themselves so we can begin to reduce our troop numbers on the ground."[citation needed]

Local issues[edit]

According to his website, Roskam opposes plans to expand O'Hare International Airport, and instead favors building a third regional airport in Chicago's southern suburbs.[67] However, the FAA approved O'Hare expansion in 2005,[68] and the new runway opened in 2008.[69]

On July 1, 2008, Roskam announced plans to introduce legislation preventing the acquisition of the EJ&E Railway by the CN Railway by designating "a 36-mile stretch of the EJ&E as a Corridor for Inter-Suburban Commuter Rail" for use in Metra's STAR line.[70] He introduced H.R. 6476 on July 10, 2008 with co-sponsors Judy Biggert and Donald A. Manzullo.[71] Roskam claims this would be the nation's first suburb to suburb commuter rail line.[72]

Roskam adamantly opposes President Obama's planned relocation of Guantanamo Bay detention camp inmates to Thomson Correctional Center in Thompson, Illinois, calling it "a misguided decision that will ultimately be regretted."[73]

Qatar terror financing[edit]

Roskam wants the U.S. government to hold accountable Qatar for its support of Hamas. He has appealed to the Obama Administration for support. Roskam joins the U.S. Treasury Department in his criticism.[74]

On July 31, 2014, Roskam joined Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to urge the Obama Administration to end the United States partnership with Qatar. Roskam, Kerry and Lew cited Qatar’s support of Hamas as one of the primary reasons.[75][76]

On August 2, 2013, Roskam and Congressman John Barrow (D-GA) authored a letter, signed by a total of 24 Members of Congress to Qatari Ambassador Mahamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi. The letter took Qatar to task for expanding its diplomatic and economic relations with Hamas. Roskam said, “Ignoring Qatar’s funding of Hamas sets a dangerous precedent of giving our allies a free pass on openly supporting terrorism. The United States must take an unequivocal stand against any country’s actions that enable extremists like Hamas to murder innocent people.” Roskam cited an article published by The New York Times, which accused Qatar’s emir of pledging $400 million in financial aid to Hamas in October 2012.[77]

In December 2014, Roskam and Sherman requested new sanctions on Qatar in a letter to Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew. They also asked for a detailed accounting of public and private financing from within Qatar for Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the al-Nusra Front.[78]

Social Security and Medicare[edit]

On May 20, 2005, Roskam and six other Illinois senators missed a vote in the Illinois Senate on a non-binding resolution urging the United States Congress to protect Social Security and reject private accounts. The resolution passed 32-19-1, but no action was taken in the Illinois House.[79] Roskam has said in a WBBM post debate press conference, "I am against privatizing Social Security, I am against raising taxes for Social Security benefits, and I'm against benefit reductions for Social Security.[80]

According to a direct mailing by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Roskam will protect Social Security by opposing any plans that reduce benefits. Roskam told The Hill that he opposes any measures that would add private savings accounts or slice up the current program to create a private account. However, Roskam responded to a National Taxpayers Union questionnaire stating he would "work and vote for Social Security Choice that will allow younger workers to have the choice of investing much of their Social Security taxes in regulated individual retirement accounts."[81]

On January 12, 2007, Roskam voted with the majority of his party against the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower covered Part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.[82]

Stem-cell research[edit]

Roskam supports adult and umbilical cord stem cell research. He has argued against embryonic stem cell research in the Illinois Senate, even if privately funded,[83] and voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in Congress.[84]


Roskam advocates making permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts,[85] and has sponsored or cosponsored fourteen pieces of legislation for lower taxes, including child tax credits and reducing the income tax, and has stated support for a research and development tax credit. As an Illinois General Assembly legislator, Roskam authored and supported several pieces of tax reduction legislation.[86] Americans for Tax Reform named Roskam "Hero of the Taxpayer" in 2005 for his opposition to HB-755[87] which would have raised income and sales taxes by 67% or nearly $7 billion.[88]

In 2010 Roskam signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.[89]

Other positions[edit]

Roskam helped to pass the Safe American Roads Act of 2007, which prohibits the U.S. Department of Transportation from granting Mexican trucks access beyond the U.S./Mexico commercial zone until the department complies with the safety and security regulations Congress has already enacted. He supports the death penalty, opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions,[90][91] and supports allowing the use of earmarks in federal budgeting.[92]

Roskam has consistently voted for lawsuit reform, and has been endorsed by pro-tort reform organizations[93] During a 1995 push for tort reform in the Illinois General Assembly, Roskam voted for the reform measure despite promises to the contrary. Terrence Lavin, a member of the Illinois Bar Association who became its president in 2003, claimed Al Salvi and Roskam promised, "We will never, ever vote for tort reform",[citation needed] when they solicited a $25,000 donation to a political action committee. Roskam later reimbursed much of the money collected after he voted to support the reforms.[5]

He supports CAFTA.[94]

In November 2006, Roskam expressed opposition to raising the national minimum wage from $5.15 per hour, referring to possible effect on small businesses,[95] and voted against a bill to increase the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour over two years in Congress.[citation needed]

Roskam is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").[citation needed]

Political campaigns[edit]


Roskam ran for Congress in 1998 in Illinois' 13th congressional district to replace retiring Congressman Harris W. Fawell, but lost in the Republican primary to state Representative Judy Biggert, who went on to win the general election. Roskam received 40% of the vote to Biggert's 45%.[96]

In 1999, at Biggert's request, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated a mailing sent out by a political action committee (PAC), the Campaign for Working Families (CWF), in support of Peter Roskam. The FEC did not find the Roskam campaign at fault, but CWF was found to have violated election law. The PAC was led by conservative activist Gary Bauer.[97]


The 6th congressional district from 2003 to 2013

In March 2006, Roskam, running unopposed, won the Republican nomination to attempt to fill the seat in the 6th; his former boss, Hyde, was retiring after 32 years in Congress.[2] His opponent in the November general election was an Iraq War veteran, Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Hyde endorsed Roskam. The competitive race was called "the nation's most-watched congressional contest" by Eric Krol of the Daily Herald.[98] The district had long been a classic suburban Republican district, but had become increasingly less Republican since the turn of the millennium. In what proved to be his last campaign, Hyde was held to only 55 percent of the vote. The candidates debated on WTTW/Channel 11 (October 23), WBEZ radio (October 19), WBBM radio (September 24), and at the College of DuPage (October 12).[citation needed]

Roskam was endorsed by the Teamsters labor union,[99] The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, and The Veterans of Foreign Wars. On November 7, 2006, Roskam defeated Duckworth by a margin of 51% to 49%.[100]


In March, 2008, Roskam was again nominated to run for the 6th District seat in the Republican Primary. He was opposed by Democrat Jill Morgenthaler.

In late October, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Roskam launched a new website at The website displayed a fragment of a quotation from Democratic Presidential front-runner Barack Obama which seemed to indicate that Obama admires Roskam.[101] The portion of the Obama quotation omitted by Roskam goes: "Having said that, have I said that he's wrong? I love him, but he's wrong." The Daily Herald called the website a "... move to grab a hold of Obama's coattails ..."[102] Hardball with Chris Matthews featured a segment on Roskam's website.[103] The Morgenthaler campaign pointed out that Obama supports Morgenthaler, not Roskam.[104] However, the district reverted to form, and Roskam won re-election by a 16% margin (58% to 42%).[105]


Peter Roskam defeated Democratic nominee Ben Lowe by a 27% margin in the 2010 midterm election.[citation needed]


Roskam defeated Democratic nominee Leslie Coolidge, a former partner at KPMG, by an 18.4% margin in the 2012 election.[106]


Roskam defeated Democratic nominee Michael Mason, a retired postal manager, by a 34% margin in the 2014 general election.[107]


Roskam defeated Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner Jay Kinzler, who ran ran to the political right of Roskam,[108] with 68.8% of the vote.[109] In the general election, Roskam defeated Democratic nominee Amanda Howland, a College of Lake County Trustee and 2012 State Senate candidate, by an 18.4% margin.[110]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1992 General Election for Illinois House of Representatives – 40th district[111]
    • Peter Roskam (R), 61%
    • Pat Cullerton (D), 39%
  • 1994 General Election for Illinois House of Representatives – 40th district
    • Peter Roskam (R), unopposed
  • 1996 General Election for Illinois House of Representatives – 40th district[112]
    • Peter Roskam (R), 71%
    • Kevin Schuele (D), 29%
  • 2006 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District
  • 2008 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District
  • 2010 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District
    • Peter Roskam (R), 64%
    • Ben Lowe (D), 36%
  • 2012 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District[113]
    • Peter Roskam (R), 59%
    • Leslie Coolidge (D), 41%
  • 2014 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District[107]
    • Peter Roskam (R), 67%
    • Michael Mason (D), 33%
  • 2016 General Election for U.S. House of Representatives – 6th District[110]
    • Peter Roskam (R), 59%
    • Amanda Howland (D), 41%


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Illinois House of Representatives
Preceded by
Daniel Cronin
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 40th district

Succeeded by
Randy Hultgren
Illinois Senate
Preceded by
Beverly Fawell
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 48th district

Succeeded by
Randy Hultgren
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Henry Hyde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 6th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Kevin McCarthy
House Republican Chief Deputy Whip
Succeeded by
Patrick McHenry
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ed Perlmutter
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
John Sarbanes