Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1988, 14th term.

Born: February 18, 1947, Bronx

Home: Bronx

Education: Hunter-Lehman Col., B.A. 1969, C.U.N.Y., Lehman Col., M.A. 1973, NY Law Schl., J.D. 1987

Professional Career: Teacher, guidance counselor, NYC public schl., 1969–77.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Jewish

Family: married (Patricia) , 3 children

Democrat Eliot Engel, elected in 1988, has remained popular at home by relentlessly staying on top of constituent service and working on issues of interest to his district’s foreign-born and low-income residents. In 2013, he became the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he made his name as the backer of downtrodden ethnic groups.

Engel is the son of a welder and grew up in the Bronx. As a boy, he was a political junkie who memorized the names of all 100 senators. He graduated from Hunter-Lehman College, got a master’s in guidance and counseling from the City University of New York, and then taught in the New York City public schools. He was also a guidance counselor. After 14 years, he went back to school for a law degree from New York Law School. In 1977, at age 30, he was elected to the New York Assembly in a special election to replace a convicted incumbent. He won election to the House in 1988, replacing Democratic Rep. Mario Biaggi, who’d been convicted of bribery.

Engel’s once strongly liberal voting record has become more moderate in recent years, especially on foreign policy. On Foreign Affairs, he took over the top Democratic slot from California’s Howard Berman, who was unseated in 2012. Engel is limited in what he can accomplish in the minority on the panel, which has a far lower profile than its Senate counterpart. But he has forged a good working relationship with California Republican Ed Royce, the committee's chairman and another staunch supporter of Israel. They issued numerous joint news releases and appeared on CNN together in September 2014 to call for greater action against the Islamic State after the group released a video depicting the beheading of an American hostage.

When a senior Obama administration official was quoted in The Atlantic in October 2014 comparing to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to poultry excrement, Engel issued a statement calling it "counterproductive and unprofessional for administration officials to air their dirty laundry in such a public way." And when Speaker John Boehner enraged Democrats a few months later by inviting Netayahu to address a joint session of Congress, Engel said he would attend. Though most Democrats vowed to boycott the speech because they said it was aimed at undermining U.S. negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, "the U.S.-Israel relationship is bigger than any of the personalities involved at a given time," Engel said.

Engel does seek to publicly deflect Republican criticism of the Obama administration. At a January 2013 hearing at which committee members sharply questioned outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about security flaws that led to the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, Engel noted that House Republicans had cut diplomatic security funding. On many issues, he worked in a bipartisan fashion with Royce's Foreign Affairs predecessor Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., including on legislation to rein in Syria’s weapons program and promote human rights there. She has called him “a principled man … an incredible freedom fighter.”

Engel is not a 1970s-style dove. He supported the Gulf War resolution in 1990, the bombing of Serbia to get a settlement in Bosnia, and the use of force in Iraq in 2002, though he criticized President George W. Bush’s handling of that conflict. As chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in the 111th Congress (2009-10), he criticized socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for “provocation” of the United States. He supported continued funding for the war in Afghanistan in 2010 and was one of three lawmakers to participate in a 2011 documentary, Iranium, that was intended to sound alarms about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

On the Energy and Commerce Committee, Engel has worked on a wide range of subjects, from climate change to cell phone theft. He was among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who sponsored a 2009 measure requiring half of all new cars sold in U.S. by 2012 to be flex-fuel vehicles capable of burning any combination of ethanol, methanol, and gasoline. The automobile industry fought the measure, and it was not added to the House-passed energy bill that year. In 2010, he succeeded in passing a bill into law making it illegal to use false caller IDs to trick people into revealing personal information. During the 2009 health care debate, he was among the Democrats to engage members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition in often-tense negotiations over the scope of the legislation.

Engel has a personal tradition of staking out an aisle seat many hours before the start of the annual State of the Union address so that he can shake the president’s hand or occasionally give him a hug. In February 2009, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper called Engel “pathetic” for waiting over 12 hours for President Barack Obama’s address to Congress. Engel replied that Cooper was “pathetic” for failing to share his enthusiasm. He later told The Journal-News that constituents loved him for it: "It'll be September, October and people will say they saw me on TV."

Engel has had a handful of spirited election opponents. In the 2000 primary, Assemblyman Larry Seabrook attacked Engel for living in suburban Maryland. Engel won 50%-41%. After redistricting made his district more suburban in 2002, Engel had vigorous competition from Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican who criticized Engel for voting against tax cuts and defense spending. Engel won 63%-34%.

In 2008 and 2010, he had no primary foe and only token Republican opposition. In the months leading up to the latter election, he did face some embarrassing publicity. The Wall Street Journal reported that ethics investigators found reason to believe he was one of five members to improperly keep cash intended to cover expenses on overseas trips. He said that the amounts were minimal and that he had to dig into his own pocket on those trips. In early 2011, the House Ethics Committee declined to pursue the matter.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2464

(202) 225-5513

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2462
Washington, DC 20515-3216

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2464

(202) 225-5513

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2462
Washington, DC 20515-3216

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 796-9700

(718) 796-5134

3655 Johnson Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463-1671

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 796-9700

(718) 796-5134

3655 Johnson Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463-1671

DISTRICT OFFICE

(914) 699-4100

(914) 699-3646

6 Gramatan Avenue Suite 205
Mount Vernon, NY 10550-3208

DISTRICT OFFICE

(914) 699-4100

(914) 699-3646

6 Gramatan Avenue Suite 205
Mount Vernon, NY 10550-3208

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 320-2314

(718) 320-2047

177 Dreiser Loop Room 3
Bronx, NY 10475-2705

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 320-2314

(718) 320-2047

177 Dreiser Loop Room 3
Bronx, NY 10475-2705

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

2161 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

2161 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 60
Bronx, NY 10463-0060

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Brian Skretny
Legislative Director

Animal Rights

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Brian Skretny
Legislative Director

Arts

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Budget

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Ned Michalek
Administrative Assistant

Education

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Brian Skretny
Legislative Director

Environment

Brian Skretny
Legislative Director

Family

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Ned Michalek
Administrative Assistant

Grants

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Ned Michalek
Administrative Assistant

Health

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Labor

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Ned Michalek
Administrative Assistant

Science

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Catherine Barnao
Legislative Assistant

Lewis Kaminski
Senior Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Eliot Engel
Votes: 179,562
Percent: 75.93%
Joseph McLaughlin
Votes: 53,935
Percent: 22.81%
2012 PRIMARY
Eliot Engel
Votes: 12,856
Percent: 87.34%
Aniello Grimaldi
Votes: 1,864
Percent: 12.66%
2010 GENERAL
Eliot Engel
Votes: 95,346
Percent: 72.85%
Anthony Mele
Votes: 29,792
Percent: 22.76%
2010 PRIMARY
Eliot Engel
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Eliot Engel
Votes: 161,594
Percent: 79.87%
Robert Goodman
Votes: 40,707
Percent: 20.12%
2008 PRIMARY
Eliot Engel
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (73%), 2008 (80%), 2006 (76%), 2004 (76%), 2002 (63%), 2000 (90%), 1998 (88%), 1996 (85%), 1994 (78%), 1992 (80%), 1990 (61%), 1988 (56%)

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