For the football player, see Steve Israel (American football).

Steven J. "Steve" Israel[1] (born May 30, 1958) is the United States Representative for New York's 3rd congressional district, serving in the United States Congress since 2001. Since redistricting in 2012, the district includes portions of northern Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, as well as a minuscule portion of Queens in New York City. He is a member of the Democratic Party and was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee until November 2014. Before serving in Congress, he served on the Huntington, New York town board. He was born in New York.

Early life, education, and career

Israel was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Wantagh, on Long Island. He graduated from Nassau Community College and George Washington University. At George Washington University, he worked as an aide for Robert Matsui and then Richard Ottinger. Israel went on to become Suffolk County director of the American Jewish Congress. In 1987 he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the county legislature. After this defeat, he spent three years working as an aide to the Suffolk County executive and founded a PR and marketing firm.[2]

He was elected to the town council in Huntington, New York, in 1993. While there, he reportedly convinced the Republican supervisor to switch parties. A town official said that he persuaded colleagues to move for pay raises while opposing them himself, which was seen as a politically safer move.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives


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 Jonhson, who received 34%, and four independent candidates.[4] He has been reelected six times with relatively little difficulty, despite representing a swing district on paper.

On January 5, 2016, Israel announced that he wouldn't seek reelection in November 2016.[5]

Committee assignments

Caucus membership

Party leadership

  • 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 against Iraq, even though over 60% of his Democratic colleagues in the House voted against the bill.[6]

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 members of Congress who will outreach to the defense community and advise the House Democratic Leadership on military policy. In 2006, Israel harshly criticized Jimmy Carter for his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and at the same time criticized the Palestinian government.[7]

Israel supported a study on the feasibility of switching from Tuesday to weekend voting.[8]

Occupy Wall Street

Israel's support for Occupy Wall Street drew criticism from conservatives, who claimed the movement harbored "anti-Semitic" elements. Outraged at this, Israel pointed towards his support for Israel as well as his own Jewish heritage.[9]

DCCC chairman

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."[10]

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." It was noted that Israel had gained respect through fundraising and recruiting candidates for the campaign committee. Israel was one of the few Democrats to run campaign ads in defense of his vote on health care.[3]

Policy positions


Israel supports allowing abortions to be legal in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother. He does not support abortions being legal in all cases.[11] He has voted against bills that would prohibit federal funding for abortions, a bill that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions, and the Abortion Pain Act, which would prevent abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. He has received 100% ratings from the pro-choice groups NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, as well as 0% ratings from the National Right to Life Committee, consistently since 2004.

Gun issues

Steve 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,[12] 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.”[13] He has received a 0% rating from the pro gun rights NRA and the Gun Owners of America, as well as a 100% rating from the pro gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.[14] 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.[15] The bill would extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 another ten years, but not expand any of its provisions (related to plastic guns).

Health care

Steve Israel voted for the 2010 Affordable Care Act,[16] and against several bills to repeal it.[14]

LGBT rights

Israel supports legalizing same sex marriage. In a press release in June 2009, he said “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.” [17] His home state did follow, as New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011.

He also voted for the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell, and for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.[14]

He has a 100% rating from the pro LGBT rights Human Rights Campaign and a 0% rating from the Family Research Council.[11]

J Street controversy

Steve Israel was an honorary member of the gala host committee for a Gala dinner on October 27, 2009 by J Street, a liberal,[18][19][20] 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 Rep. Israel and those supporting J Street. The Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb called the J Street dinner an "anti-Israel bash."[21] In response, Rep. Israel's spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton, said, "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".[22]

Electoral history

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.

U.S. House, 2nd District of New York (General Election)
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%[23] Stephen Labate Republican 42%[23]
2014 Steve Israel Democratic 54%[23] Grant Lally Republican 45%[23]

Personal life

Israel has two adult daughters and is also an author.[24]

The sale of his marital home was and is the subject of some considerable controversy.[25] This is due to the fact that he has received financial contributions from the lenders who gave him a favorable deal on a short sale of his marital home following his second divorce.[26]


  1. ^ Lambert, Bruce (May 21, 2000). "Fight Already On for a House Seat That Could Prove Decisive". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Israel (D-NY)". The Washington Post. July 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Halbfinger, David M. (18 March 2011). "L.I. Congressman Leads Uphill Charge Toward a Democratic House". The New York Times. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hulse, Carl (5 January 2016). "Steve Israel of New York, a Top House Democrat, Won't Seek Re-election". New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  6. ^ See
  7. ^ "– The Jewish Daily Forward". Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  8. ^ "Why Tuesday? Goes To Washington". July 16, 2009. 
  9. ^ McAuliff, Michael (20 October 2011). "Steve Israel Furious At Republican Charge That He Embraces Anti-Semitism In Occupy Wall Street". The Huffington Post. 
  10. ^ "Steve Israel to Chair Democratic Campaign Arm". The Atlantic. 19 November 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [D-NY4]. "No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009 (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 2401)". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ a b c "Steve Israel - Political Positions - - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  15. ^ "House votes to renew ban on plastic firearms". 3 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Counting Marriage Equality". June 17, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (April 15, 2008). "Jewish Liberals to Launch A Counterpoint to AIPAC". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  19. ^ Eggen, Dan (April 17, 2009). "Year-Old Liberal Jewish Lobby Has Quickly Made Its Mark". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  20. ^ Stockton, Farah (February 27, 2010). "Delahunt's journey to Mideast upended". Retrieved September 22, 2010. 
  21. ^ Eggen, Dan (October 25, 2009). "Israel conference to open amid controversy". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Michael Oren rejects J Street conference invite". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d "New York Election Results - President, Congress, Governor | NBC News". November 5, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Steve Israel's fortunate home sale - Editorial". Newsday. 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  26. ^ "Israel's Lenders Gave Thousands To Campaign". The Huntingtonian. 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 

External links

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

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

Party political offices
Preceded by
Chris Van Hollen
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Ben Luján
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Mike Honda
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Darrell Issa