Arab American Members of Congress

Rep. Nick Rahall is a Democratic Congressman from West Virginia's 3rd congressional district, which includes the southern part of the state and West Virginia's second largest city, Huntington. Rahall is an Arab American of Lebanese descent. Born in Beckley, Rahall went on to work for the late Senator Robert Byrd and successfully ran for Congress in 1976. He has served in the House ever since, winning reelection 17 times. Rep. Rahall is the ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and from 2007 until 2011, he served as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Rahall has been a leading critic of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians during his time in Congress, arguing for a more balanced American approach to the issue. He has made numerous visits to the region and has been an important, and often lonely, advocate for Arab and Arab American issues on Capitol Hill. He recently sponsored a resolution honoring the life and work of the Arab American writer Ameen Rihani. Rahall has also been a defender of civil liberties, voting against authorizing the Patriot Act and other legislation that expands the federal government's powers to surveill Americans. Over his nearly forty years in Congress, Rep. Rahall has been a strong and consistent voice for the issues most important to Arab Americans.

Rep. Darrell Issa is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 49th congressional district, which includes parts of San Diego and Riverside Counties. The grandson of Lebanese immigrants, Rep. Issa grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After a successful business career in electronics and car alarms, he moved with his family to suburban San Diego, where he successfully ran for Congress in 2000. He has won reelection five times. Rep. Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and serves on the House Judiciary Committee. He has been a leader on a number of issues related to the Middle East, including as a cosponsor of the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2011, meant to ensure that these dangerous weapons would be be dismantled so that they would not pose a threat to civilians. Rep. Issa was an early supporter of the Arab Spring, co-sponsoring a resolution that expressed solidarity with the Egyptian people during the 2011 revolution. As a signatory to the 2009 Cohen-Boustany-Carnahan letter, Rep. Issa urged President Obama to provide strong American leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to use the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for an agreement. As a successful businessman and political leader, Rep. Darrell Issa serves as an important model for Arab American political engagement.

Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana's 7th district, which is based in Lafayette and includes the southwestern corner of the state. Boustany is an Arab American; his paternal grandparents were Lebanese immigrants. Rep. Boustany studied medicine and practiced as a heart surgeon in New Orleans before running for office. He ran for an open congressional seat in 2004 and has been reelected three times as an incumbent. Rep. Boustany serves on the Ways and Means Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight. He has been an advocate for issues important to Arab Americans, including as an early cosponsor of a bill to recognize the achievements of the early Arab American author Ameen Rihani. Rep. Boustany has also been an advocate for greater American engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including as an author of the Cohen-Boustany-Carnahan letter supporting President Obama's efforts to revive the peace process.

Rep. Justin Amash is a Republican congressman representing Michigan's 3rd district, which includes Barry, Ionia and most of Kent counties and the city of Grand Rapids. He is an Arab-American, the son of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother who immigrated to Michigan. After serving two years in the Michigan House of Representatives, Rep. Amash was elected to Congress in 2010. At the age of 32, he is one of the youngest members of the House. Rep. Amash is a member of the Joint Economic Committee, the House Budget Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. Amash also chairs the Liberty Caucus, a libertarian group within the Republican party, and he has endorsed Texas Rep. Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. He has shown substantial independence during his short time in Congress, voting against his party much more frequently than most Members. Rep. Amash has also been a leader on civil liberties issues, becoming one of the few Republicans in the House to vote against the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens. He also added an amendment to a recent cybersecurity bill that exempted some personal data from government oversight, an important limitation on government power. As a young and charismatic congressman, Rep. Amash is a rising star in Washington and an important model for Arab-American political participation.

Rep. Richard Hanna is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from New York's 24th District, which covers a large section of central New York state including the cities of Utica, Rome and Cortland. Rep. Hanna was born in Utica and spent his career in the construction business before winning election to Congress in 2010. He is an Arab-American of Lebanese descent. Rep. Hanna serves on three House committees: Transportation and Infrastructure, Education and the Workforce and Small Business. He has been an opponent of the Iraq War and has supported President Obama's efforts to bring American troops home from that conflict. Rep. Hanna has also been an important voice for civil liberties in Congress, voting against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act because of concerns about the broad surveillance powers it grants to the federal government. As a strong and independent voice in Washington, Rep. Richard Hanna provides an important example for other Arab-Americans interested in entering the political arena.

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