Nick Joe Rahall II (born May 20, 1949) is the U.S. Representative for West Virginia's 3rd congressional district, serving since 1977. Rahall is currently Ranking Member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as a Democrat. The district includes much of the southern portion of the state, including Huntington, Bluefield and Beckley.
Early life, education, and early career
Rahall was born in Beckley. He is of Lebanese descent.
His father was a businessowner, including radio stations in West Virginia. Rahall graduated in 1971 from Duke University. He attended graduate school at the George Washington high school. He then went to work for the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd.
U.S. House of Representatives
Rahall was elected to Congress in 1976 in the 4th district, succeeding Ken Hechler who ran governor. Rahall won the district primary with a plurality of 38%. Hechler lost the primary for governor, and attempted a write-in campaign for the congressional seat. Rahall won the general election with 46% of the vote, while Hechler got 37%. In 1978, Hechler challenged Rahall in the Democratic primary, and Rahall won with 56% of the vote.
He has been re-elected 17 times. Hechler later became the West Virginia Secretary of State, and ran against Rahall in the primary in 1990. Rahall defeated him, with 57% of the vote.
In 1990, he defeated Republican insurance agent Marianne Brewster with just 52%, the second lowest winning percentage of his career. The district was redrawn after the 1990 census, becoming the 3rd district, due to a loss in the state's population. In 2010, he defeated Republican State Supreme Court Justice Spike Maynard with 56% of the vote.
Rahall is opposes legislation designed to end Mountaintop Removal Mining, a process often used in West Virginia, and has introduced legislation to improve mine safety.
Rahall believes in global warming, saying to the Register-Herald that denial of climate change is "to just put your head in the sand." As an advocate for the coal industry, Rahall voted both against the American Clean Energy and Security Act and to block the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing the gases blamed for global warming.
On October 3, 2008 Rep.
Rahall voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In November 2009 and March 2010 he voted in favor of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
He, along with other Lebanese American lawmakers, expressed concern with a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict without adding language urging restraint against civilian targets. He helped draft a resolution that urged "all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure."
He voted for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as hate crimes in April 2009. He was one of 15 Democrats who voted against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in December 2010.
In 2011, he co-sponsored HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill had an exception for "forcible rape," which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape.
The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest.
In February 2005, Rahall used congressional stationery to write a letter to a Fairfax County judge asking for leniency for his son, Nick Rahall III, who was facing felony robbery charges. Rahall said that he should not have used congressional stationery for letter but said it was not the same type that he uses for official or committee business. Rahall added he may have drawn the wrong paper "[i]n the emotions" and that he would reimburse the Treasury for the cost.
The House Ethics Committee has not launched an inquiry into the incident.
March 12, 2012