Nydia Margarita Velázquez (born March 28, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for New York's 12th congressional district, serving since 1993. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes residential areas of three boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan). She is the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress, and the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus until January 3, 2011.
Early life, education and career
Velázquez, whose father worked the sugar cane fields, was one of nine siblings born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. She was raised with the influence of political dinner table conversations.
Her father was a local political activist and, from a young age, she would accompany her father to political rallies. Her father would focus on the rights of sugar cane workers and denounce the abuse perpetrated by wealthy farmers.
After skipping a grade, she entered high school when she was 13. In high school she organized her classmates on a protest and the school was closed down. Their protest against the dangerous and unsanitary conditions of the school caused the necessary renovations to be made.
In 1969, when she was 16, she enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico. In 1974 she graduated magna cum laude and became the first one in her family to receive a college diploma. She then went to New York City, where she attended and studied political science, on a scholarship, at New York University. In 1976 she received her Master's degree.
Velázquez was a university professor for many years, first in the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, (1976–81) and then at New York's Hunter College (1981–83).
Throughout her career, Velázquez has been an advocate of many Latino rights programs and associations. During her time serving as the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States, Velázquez initiated one of the most successful Latino empowerment programs in the nation’s history - "Atrevete" (Dare to Go for It!). She taught Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and became the first Latino woman to serve on the New York City Council. In December 2011, Velázquez admitted to Daily Caller reporter Michelle Fields question she did not know what Operation Fast and Furious was at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event, and, fellow New York Democrat, Rep.
Jose Enrique Serrano, also admitted to TheDC that he was unaware of Fast and Furious when approached for questions about the scandal.
New York City Council
In 1983, she was appointed Special Assistant to Representative Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn). In 1984, she became the first Latina appointed to serve as a member of the New York City Council. In 1986, she served as the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs of the U.S. During that time, she initiated a successful Latino empowerment program called "Atrevete"(dare to go for it).
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1992, Velázquez was elected as a Democrat to represent New York's 12th Congressional District in Congress.
As a Representative, Velázquez has focused on building a legislative agenda that lobbies to increase the opportunities for the nation's 47 million Hispanics, including the over 2.3 million Hispanics currently residing in New York City.
Throughout her career as a New York Representative, Nydia Velázquez has consistently and fully supported pro-choice and family planning interests groups such as the NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood. Velázquez has consistently shown support of the National Farmers' Union. She has shown no support of interests groups that are against animal rights and animal rightists.
In 2009, Velázquez voted against the amendment Prohibiting Federally Funded Abortion Services. In the past year, Velázquez has supported the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations, the Unemployment Benefits Association, and the Unemployment Benefits Extension. Velázquez has also consistently voted in favor of bills attempting to strengthen women's rights such as the Employment Discrimination Law Amendments, Equal Pay Bill and the Inculsion of Consolidated Appropriations.
On September 29, 2008, Congresswoman Velázquez voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
On November 19, 2008, Congresswoman Velázquez was elected by her peers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to lead the group for the 111th Congress.
Prior to removing her name from consideration, she was considered a possible candidate to be appointed to the United States Senate by Governor David Paterson after New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was nominated by President Barack Obama's cabinet.
Among her "firsts" are: the first Hispanic woman to serve on the New York City Council; the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress; the first woman Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee. Velázquez became the first woman to chair the United States House Committee on Small Business in January 2007 as well as the first Hispanic woman to chair a House standing committee.
In 1992, she defeated incumbent congressman Stephen J. Solarz in the primary and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York's 12th congressional district, and became the first female Puerto Rican member of Congress. The sprawling 12th district encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Lower Manhattan. It includes such neighborhoods as Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Woodside in Queens, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Red Hook, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn and part of Manhattan's Lower East Side. She also became the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee. She oversees federal programs and contracts totaling $200 billion annually. She also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.
During her campaign for the House seat, her medical records, including documented clinical depression and an attempted suicide, were leaked to the press. She quickly held a press conference and said that she had been undergoing counseling for years and was emotionally and psychologically healthy.
Velázquez’s 2010 campaign income was $759,359. She came out of this campaign with about $7,736 in debt Her top contributors include the American Bankers Association, the National Roofing Contractors Association and the National Telephone Cooperative Association.
December 27th, 2011