Steve Israel

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Steve Israel
Steve Israel, official photo portrait, 2009.jpeg
Chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byCheri Bustos
David Cicilline
Hakeem Jeffries (Co-Chairs)
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byChris Van Hollen
Succeeded byBen Ray Luján
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byRick Lazio
Succeeded byThomas Suozzi
Constituency2nd district (2001–2013)
3rd district (2013–2017)
Personal details
Born (1958-05-30) May 30, 1958 (age 64)
New York City, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Marlene Budd
(m. 2003; div. 2014)

Cara Longworth
(m. 2018)
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)

Steven J. Israel (born May 30, 1958) is an American political commentator, lobbyist, author, bookseller and former politician. He served as a U.S. Representative from New York from 2001 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected in New York's 2nd congressional district until 2013 and New York's 3rd congressional district until his retirement.[1] At the time of his departure from Congress, his district included portions of northern Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island, as well as a small portion of Queens in New York City.

Israel chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015 and Democratic Policy and Communications Committee from 2015 to 2017. Prior to his election to Congress, he served on the Huntington Town Board, starting 1993. After leaving Congress in 2017, Israel joined CNN as a political commentator.[2] In 2019, he was appointed the inaugural director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University.[3] As of 2022, Israel also serves on the Board of Advisors for lobbying firm Michael Best Strategies.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Israel was born in Brooklyn[5] and raised in the Long Island community of Levittown, New York.[6] He attended Nassau Community College and Syracuse University for one year before graduating from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1982.[7]

After earning his bachelor's degree, Israel became a staff member for U.S. Representative Richard Ottinger.[5] He was later elected to the town council in Huntington, New York, in 1993.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


After Rick Lazio left his House seat to run for the United States Senate in 2000, Israel was elected to his seat, receiving 48% of the vote, defeating Republican Joan Johnson, who received 34%, and four independent candidates.[9] He was reelected seven times with relatively little difficulty, despite representing a swing district on paper.

On January 5, 2016, Israel announced that he would not seek reelection in November 2016.[10]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Party leadership[edit]

  • Assistant Democratic Whip
  • House Democratic Caucus Task Force On Defense and the Military (Chair)
  • House Democratic Study Group on National Security Policy (Co-chair)


Israel voted to authorize George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, even though more than 60 per cent of his Democratic colleagues in the House voted against the bill.[11]

In his second term, Israel was tapped for a leadership position as Assistant Whip. In his third term, Israel was appointed to chair the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Defense and Military, a group of 15 Democratic House members who reach out to the defense community and advise the House Democratic leadership on military policy.

In 2006, in response to Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Israel said, "I disagree with President Carter fundamentally. The reason for the Palestinian plight is the Palestinians."[12]

Israel supported a study on the feasibility of switching from Tuesday to weekend voting.[13]

Occupy Wall Street

Israel's support for Occupy Wall Street drew criticism from conservatives, who claimed the movement harbored "anti-Semitic" elements. In response Israel pointed to his support for the nation of Israel as well as his own Jewish heritage.[14]

DCCC chairman[edit]

As an ally of Nancy Pelosi, Israel was mentioned in 2010 as a possible successor to Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the DCCC; he declined to speak about it until after the midterms were over, saying he was "just completely focused on supporting Nancy Pelosi."[15]

It was reported that Pelosi's selection of Israel to head the DCCC had much to do with the district he represents, where "Democrats hold a modest registration edge but independents decide elections." Israel had gained respect through fundraising and recruiting candidates for the campaign committee. Israel is one of the few Democrats who has run campaign ads in defense of his vote on health care.[8]

Policy positions[edit]


Israel has said he supports legal abortions in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother, though he does not support abortions being legal in all cases.[16] He has voted against bills that would prohibit federal funding for abortions, against a bill that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions, and against the Abortion Pain Act, which would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Since 2004 he has consistently received 100% ratings from the pro-choice groups NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, as well as a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.


On July 4, 2013, Israel announced legislation that would require all U.S. national parks to sell merchandise that is Made in the USA.[17]

Gun issues[edit]

Israel supports increased regulation on gun ownership. He voted against several bills and amendments which would decrease federal regulation of safety precautions of guns and decrease federal regulations on the sale of firearms. He also cosponsored the 2009 "No Fly, No Buy" Act,[18] stating "Gun safety measures like the 'No Fly, No Buy' Act should be a no-brainer for every member of Congress. It's common sense legislation."[19] He has received 0% ratings from the pro-gun rights NRA and the Gun Owners of America, as well as 100% ratings from the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.[20] Israel was an original cosponsor of the bill To extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years (H.R. 3626; 113th Congress), which passed the House on December 3, 2013.[21] The bill allowed for a ten-year extension of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, but did not expand any of its provisions (related to plastic guns).

Health care[edit]

Israel voted for the 2010 Affordable Care Act[22] and against several bills repealing it.[20]

LGBT rights[edit]

Israel supports same-sex marriage. In a June 2009 press release he stated, "I'm proud of what Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont have done for marriage equality. I hope that my home state of New York will soon follow."[23] New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011.

He voted for the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell and for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.[20]

He has a 100% rating from the pro-LGBTQ rights Human Rights Campaign and a 0% rating from the Family Research Council.[16]

Social media[edit]

In October 2022, Israel joined the Council for Responsible Social Media project launched by Issue One to address the negative mental, civic, and public health impacts of social media in the United States co-chaired by former House Democratic Caucus Leader Dick Gephardt and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.[24][25]

J Street controversy[edit]

Steve Israel was an honorary member of the gala host committee for a Gala dinner on October 27, 2009, by J Street, a liberal[26][27][28] nonprofit lobbying group. In the weeks leading up to the Gala dinner, those aligned with the Likud, the political party of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized Steve Israel and those supporting J Street. The Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb called the J Street dinner an "anti-Israel bash."[29] In response, Steve Israel's spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton state, "It's absurd that this has become a controversy [...] The Congressman agreed to be on the gala host committee. That doesn't mean he agrees with every viewpoint of every speaker at the event".[30]

Electoral history[edit]

New York election law allows for fusion voting, where a candidate can run as a member of multiple parties. In 2000 Israel ran only as a Democrat in his winning bid for Congress, but since 2002 he has also run as the candidate for the Independence Party and the Working Families Party. In 2000 the Republican candidate ran only as a Republican, but since 2002, every Republican has also run as the candidate for the Conservative Party of New York.

Year Winning candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
2000 Steve Israel Democratic 48% Joan B. Johnson Republican 35%
2002 Steve Israel Democratic 58% Joseph P. Finley Republican 40%
2004 Steve Israel Democratic 67% Richard Hoffmann Republican 33%
2006 Steve Israel Democratic 70% John W. Bugler Republican 30%
2008 Steve Israel Democratic 67% Frank J. Stalzer Republican 33%
2010 Steve Israel Democratic 56% John Gomez Republican 43%
2012 Steve Israel Democratic 58%[31] Stephen Labate Republican 42%[31]
2014 Steve Israel Democratic 54%[31] Grant Lally Republican 45%[31]

Personal life[edit]

Israel has two adult daughters.[6] He has written two novels of political satire: The Global War on Morris (2014) and Big Guns (2018).[32][33]

The 2012 sale of Israel's marital home was the subject of minor controversy, after it was discovered that he had received financial contributions from lenders who also gave him a favorable deal on a short sale of the home in the wake of his separation from his wife Marlene Budd.[34][35]

In November 2021, Israel opened a bookstore in Oyster Bay, NY named after former President and town resident Theodore Roosevelt.[36]


  • Steve Israel, ed. (2007). Charge!: History's Greatest Military Speeches. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1591143994.
  • The Global War on Morris. Simon & Schuster. 2014. ISBN 978-1476772233.
  • Big Guns. Simon & Schuster. 2018. ISBN 978-1501118029.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambert, Bruce (May 21, 2000). "Fight Already On for a House Seat That Could Prove Decisive". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Rick Brand (January 17, 2017). "Steve Israel joins CNN as commentator". Newsday. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  3. ^ Winberg, Olivia (February 5, 2019). "Former Congressman Steve Israel to Head New Institute of Politics and Global Affairs". The Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  4. ^ "About Steve Israel". Michael Best Strategies. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Steve Israel (D)". The U.S. Congress Votes Database (The Washington Post). Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "About: Full Biography". Congressman Steve Israel official site. Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Steve Israel Official Congressional Biography
  8. ^ a b Halbfinger, David M. (March 18, 2011). "L.I. Congressman Leads Uphill Charge Toward a Democratic House". The New York Times.
  9. ^[bare URL PDF]
  10. ^ Hulse, Carl (January 5, 2016). "Steve Israel of New York, a Top House Democrat, Won't Seek Re-election". New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  11. ^ See
  12. ^ Siegel, Jennifer (October 17, 2006). "Carter Book Slaps Israel With 'Apartheid' Tag, Provides Ammo to GOP". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  13. ^ "Why Tuesday? Goes To Washington". July 16, 2009.
  14. ^ McAuliff, Michael (October 20, 2011). "Steve Israel Furious At Republican Charge That He Embraces Anti-Semitism In Occupy Wall Street". The Huffington Post.
  15. ^ "Steve Israel to Chair Democratic Campaign Arm". The Atlantic. November 19, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  17. ^ "Rep. Israel Announces Legislation to Require National Parks to Sell Merchandise 'Made in the USA'". Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  18. ^ Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [D-NY4]. "No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009 (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 2401)". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  19. ^ "Reps. McCarthy and Israel to Stand with Law Enforcement and Announce "No Fly, No Buy" Act Today - Public Statements - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  20. ^ a b c "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  21. ^ "House votes to renew ban on plastic firearms". December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  22. ^[bare URL]
  23. ^ "Counting Marriage Equality". June 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  24. ^ Feiner, Lauren (October 12, 2022). "Facebook whistleblower, former defense and intel officials form group to fix social media". CNBC. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  25. ^ "Council for Responsible Social Media – Issue One". Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  26. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (April 15, 2008). "Jewish Liberals to Launch A Counterpoint to AIPAC". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  27. ^ Eggen, Dan (April 17, 2009). "Year-Old Liberal Jewish Lobby Has Quickly Made Its Mark". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  28. ^ Stockton, Farah (February 27, 2010). "Delahunt's journey to Mideast upended". Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  29. ^ Eggen, Dan (October 25, 2009). "Israel conference to open amid controversy". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  30. ^ "Michael Oren rejects J Street conference invite". Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  31. ^ a b c d "New York Election Results - President, Congress, Governor | NBC News". November 5, 2012. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  32. ^ Charles, Ron (December 23, 2014). "Book review: 'The Global War on Morris,' a political satire by Congressman Steve Israel". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  33. ^ Israel, Steve (November 6, 2018). "Why a Book Tour Is More Brutal Than a Political Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "Steve Israel's fortunate home sale - Editorial". Newsday. October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  35. ^ "Israel's Lenders Gave Thousands To Campaign". The Huntingtonian. October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  36. ^ "Former NY congressman Steve Israel breaks into the book business". Forward. November 2, 2021. Retrieved July 13, 2022.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
New office Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
Succeeded by
Succeeded by
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative