Elise Marie Stefanik (/stəˈfɑːnɪk/; born July 2, 1984) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New York's 21st congressional district since 2015. Upon her first House election in 2014, Stefanik, then aged 30, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the time. She is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress.
Early life and career
Elise Stefanik was born in Albany, New York in 1984 to Melanie and Ken Stefanik. Her parents own Premium Plywood Products, a wholesale plywood distributor based in Guilderland Center. After graduating from the Albany Academy for Girls, she entered Harvard University, graduating with a degree in Government in 2006. While at Harvard, she received an honorable mention for the Women's Leadership Award.
After graduating from Harvard, she joined the administration of President George W. Bush, working as staff to the Domestic Policy Council. Stefanik worked in the office of the White House Chief of Staff for Joshua Bolten, Bush's second deputy chief of staff. She also helped prepare the Republican platform in 2012, served as director of new media for Tim Pawlenty's presidential exploratory committee, and worked at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Initiative. Stefanik managed Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan's debate preparation during the 2012 presidential election. Following the Romney–Ryan loss in the 2012 presidential election, she returned to upstate New York and joined her parents' business.
U.S. House of Representatives
In August 2013, Stefanik declared her candidacy in the 2014 election for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 21st congressional district. The district had been in Republican hands for 100 years before Democrat Bill Owens was elected to represent it in a 2009 special election. In 2014, Owens opted not to seek re-election.
Stefanik defeated Matt Doheny in the 2014 Republican primary election, 61 to 39 percent, She faced Aaron Woolf, the Democratic Party nominee, and Matt Funiciello, the Green Party nominee, in the general election on November 4. Stefanik defeated Woolf and Funiciello, gaining 55.2% to their 33.5% and 10.6%, respectively. At age 30, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Stefanik ran for re-election in 2016. She ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Stefanik supported Donald Trump for president after he won the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries.
Stefanik faced Democrat Mike Derrick and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello in the general election. She won re-election with 66%, while Derrick (D) received 29%, and Funiciello (G) received 5% of the vote.
In 2017, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton endorsed Stefanik for re-election, lauding her work on the House Armed Services Committee.
In the general election, she won re-election with 56.1% of the vote, with Tedra Cobb (D) receiving 42.4% and Lynn Kahn receiving 1.5%.
In January 2015, Stefanik was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee. She was elected by the freshman Representatives in the 114th Congress to serve as the Freshman Representative to the Policy Committee.
In February 2015, she was appointed vice chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness.
On January 11, 2017, Stefanik announced that she had been elected co-chair of the Tuesday Group, "a caucus of...moderate House Republicans from across the country." According to Stefanik, "[the] Tuesday Group is comprised of members who are willing to work across the aisles to advance policy solutions for their constituents, and I look forward to working on critical issues facing our nation in this important role." In September 2017, the Albany Times Union reported that "Stefanik may be integral to the future of the [Tuesday Group] as some wonder aloud whether it can survive with some of its top members exiting or planning to do so... Stefanik remains in a position to amplify her voice — for both moderates and her constituents."
Stefanik is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and the Climate Solutions Caucus.
Stefanik led recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections. In December 2018, Stefanik announced she would be leaving the NRCC to create a "leadership PAC" dedicated to recruiting Republican women to run for office. This group, named Elevate PAC (E-PAC), announced in an October 22 press conference that it had partially funded the primary campaigns of 11 Republican women from various states.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Subcommittee on Military Personnel
- Subcommittee on Readiness (Vice Chair)
- Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities
- Committee on Education and the Workforce
- Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services
- Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
- Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training
- United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Stefanik was ranked as the 19th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the first session of the 115th United States Congress by the Bipartisan Index, created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.
Stefanik is pro-life, but says the GOP should be more understanding of other positions on the issue. She opposes taxpayer funding for abortion and supports requiring that health insurance plans disclose whether or not they cover abortions. In 2019, The National Right to Life Committee, a political action committee (PAC) opposed to legal abortion, gives Stefanik a 71% pro-life rating, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, a PAC that supports legal abortion, gave her a 28% pro-choice rating.
Stefanik voted in favor of the Keystone Pipeline. Stefanik opposed the 2013 sequestration cuts to the federal U.S. military budget, citing its effect on Fort Drum in Watertown, New York, part of her district.
She voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, joining five other New York Republican representatives. Her primary reason for voting "no" was due to the state and local tax deduction "that so many in our district and across New York rely on." Stefanik also criticized "Albany's failed leadership and inability to rein in spending." She stated "New York is one of the highest taxed states in the country, and families here rely on this important deduction to make ends meet. Failure to maintain SALT (state and local tax deductions) could lead to more families leaving our region."
In a July 2015 profile in The Washington Times, Jacqueline Klimas noted that Stefanik was the only freshman on that year's conference committee for the defense policy bill, a position accorded to her "because of her extensive experience in foreign policy — working in the George W. Bush administration, prepping Rep. Paul Ryan for his vice presidential debates and listening to commanders at Fort Drum in her home district." Jack Collens, a political science professor at Siena College, told Klimas that Stefanik's prize committee position signalled that party leaders wanted Stefanik to be part of "the next generation of Republican leaders."
Stefanik united New York House members "to spare Fort Drum from drastic cuts." Instead of a planned reduction of 40,000 troops, Fort Drum ended up losing only 28, making it a standout among stateside Army bases.
Stefanik criticized President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, saying the decision was "misguided" and "harms the ongoing effort to fight climate change while also isolating us from our allies."
In January 2017, Stefanik joined the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, an apparent indication of "a moderate stance on climate change issues."
On May 4, 2017, Stefanik voted on party lines in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and passing the House Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act.
Following a televised community forum in Plattsburgh four days later, in which many attendees opposed her vote and wanted to maintain Obamacare because it was superior, Stefanik said she had been unfairly criticized for her vote for AHCA. She defended her vote in a post on Medium, "Setting the Record Straight on the American Health Care Act."
Her claims about the effects of the AHCA have been strongly disputed by journalists' fact-checking from the Glens Falls Post-Star, North Country Public Radio, and the Albany Times Union. Following constituent backlash over Stefanik's AHCA vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Stefanik to their list of targeted 2018 House races.
In 2017, Stefanik co-sponsored the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313) in 115th Congress – legislation that, among other things, would eliminate the genetic privacy protections of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 and allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. The bill is opposed by the American Society of Human Genetics.
Stefanik opposes abortion, but argues for compassion and understanding of different views. She joined her party in supporting H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2017.
In November 2017, Stefanik voted for the Championing Healthy Kids Act, which would provide a five-year extension to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Stefanik opposed Trump's 2017 executive order imposing a temporary ban on travel and immigration to the United States by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.
Stefanik declined to condemn the Trump administration family separation policy, instead publishing a press release congratulating Trump after he signed an Executive Order to suspend new separations and detain families.
On March 26, 2019, Stefanik was one of fourteen Republicans to vote with all House Democrats to override President Trump's veto of a measure unwinding the latter's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
Stefanik voted to release the Nunes memo written by staff members of Republican U.S. Representative Devin Nunes. President Trump asserted that the memo discredited the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation asserted: "material omissions of fact ... fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."
Stefanik supported the ending of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections over the objections of Committee Democrats.
On Tuesday, December 19, 2017, Stefanik voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In a December 18 Facebook post, Stefanik asserted: "the final bill does not adequately protect the state and local tax deduction that so many in our district and across New York rely on ... New York is one of the highest taxed states in the country, and families here rely on this important deduction to make ends meet."
After the Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal Obama-era net neutrality in December 2017, Stefanik urged her congressional colleagues to pass legislation restoring the policy.
In September 2018, Stefanik co-sponsored, together with Seth Moulton and Dan Donovan, the "Cyber Ready Workforce Act" advanced by Jacky Rosen. The legislation would create a grant program within the Department of Labor to "create, implement and expand registered apprenticeships" in cybersecurity. It aims to offer certifications and connect participants with businesses in order to "boost the number" workers for federal jobs in said trade.
In the 116th Congress, Stefanik was one of eight Republicans to vote in favor of the Equality Act. Later in the same Congress, she introduced a bill, The Fairness for All Act, that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people while also including exceptions for religious groups and small businesses with religious foundations.
Impeachment of Donald Trump
On September 25, 2019, Stefanik announced that she did not support the impeachment of President Trump.
During the November 2019 hearings in which Congress gathered evidence and heard witness testimony in relation to the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Stefanik emerged as a key defender of Trump. During a November 15 hearing, intelligence committee ranking member Devin Nunes attempted to yield part of his allotted witness questioning time to Stefanik, but was ruled out of order by committee chairman Adam Schiff. Stefanik accused Schiff of "making up the rules as he goes" and of preventing Republican members on the committee from controlling their own time to question witnesses. Nunes and Stefanik were violating the procedural rules that were established by an October House vote, and Schiff cited the rule to them. The rule Schiff cited authorized only Schiff and Nunes, or their counsels, to ask questions during the first 45 minutes of each party's questions for witnesses. The incident created a controversy in which Stefanik and others, including Trump, accused Schiff of "gagging" her. The Washington Post and other reporters characterized the incident as a stunt to portray Schiff as unfair.
Stefanik moved into the 21st Congressional District immediately prior to beginning her first campaign. Her official residence was in Willsboro, New York, where her parents had owned a vacation home for many years. As of April 2014, she owned a minority interest in a townhouse near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., valued at $1.3 million.
Stefanik married Matthew Manda, who works in marketing and communications, in Saratoga Springs, New York on August 19, 2017. In December 2018, Stefanik and Manda moved to Schuylerville, New York.
|Democratic||Aaron G. Woolf||53,140||29.3||-17.8|
|Green||Matthew J. Funiciello||19,238||10.6||+9.0|