Peter James Roskam (born September 13, 1961) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 6th congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party and Chief Deputy Whip in the 112th Congress, ranking fourth among house Republican leaders; also served in the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives.
Early life, education and career
Roskam was born in Hinsdale, Illinois. He was the fourth of five children and was raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, graduating from Glenbard West High School. Roskam received his B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his J.D.
from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
In 1984, Roskam taught history and government at All Saints High School in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. From 1985 to 1986, Roskam served as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and from 1986 to 1987 as a legislative assistant to Rep.
Hyde. In the late 1980s, Roskam served as the Executive Director of Educational Assistance Ltd., a scholarship program for disadvantaged children founded by his father in 1982. In 1992, Roskam was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, serving from 1993 to 1999. In 2000, he was appointed by DuPage County Republican leaders to replace the retiring Beverly Fawell in the Illinois State Senate where he served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Roskam resides in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Elizabeth and their four children.
Roskam was a partner in the law firm Salvi, Roskam & Maher, a personal injury firm. He was named "Best Oral Advocate" by the American College of Trial Lawyers. The firm, now called Salvi & Maher, is politically notable because former Republican Senate candidate Al Salvi and former Republican House candidate Kathy Salvi are also partners in the firm. The Chicago Tribune noted that Roskam earned over $615,000 in 2005 as a personal injury trial lawyer.
After his parents took a trip to Vietnam and saw American veterans' dog tags for sale on the street, Roskam, along with his parents worked to return the dog tags to their owners or the families of the deceased.
Illinois General Assembly
Roskam served in the Illinois General Assembly as a Representative from 1993 to 1998, and Senator from 2000 to 2006. In the Senate, Roskam served as the Republican Whip, the Republican spokesman on the Executive Committee, and a member of the Rules Committee, Environment and Energy Committee, Insurance and Pensions Committee, and Judiciary Committee.
In the Senate, Roskam sponsored legislation giving the Supreme Court of Illinois authority to reverse a death penalty sentence, has sponsored legislation increasing the penalties for repeat D.U.I. offenders, and was the lead sponsor of a law to maintain courts' power to hold deadbeat parents in contempt to ensure child support. Roskam has authored or co-authored fourteen bills to cut taxes.
Roskam asked the Illinois Comptroller's office for a list of state employees in 1998, when Al Salvi was running for Illinois Secretary of State . At the time, Roskam told the Chicago Tribune that the request was for personal use. However, according to a report in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Roskam gave the list to Salvi, who used the list to send numbered campaign fundraising tickets to state employees. The numbering allowed the campaign to keep track of who contributed and who didn't.
In January 2005, Roskam fought amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation on the grounds that it would require churches and religious organizations to hire homosexuals. However, the act contains an explicit exemption for churches and religious organizations. The Illinois Senate passed the amendment 30-27-1 and on January 1, 2006, Illinois became the 16th state to have such a law.
In November 2004, Roskam voted against State Comptroller Dan Hynes's $1 billion proposal to raise taxes on cosmetic surgery to fund stem cell research. The proposal was defeated 29-28-1 in the Illinois Senate.
U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman Peter Roskam will serve as Chief Deputy Whip in the 112th Congress, ranking fourth among house Republican leaders.
He and Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords were periodically interviewed together on NPR's All Things Considered during their first term as to their experiences as freshmen members of Congress.
In March 2007, Roskam announced a $3 million Department of Energy grant to the Des Plaines-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI). In June 2007, Roskam supported a bill (H. R. 2619) to authorize $2.5 million per year for 2009-2011 to establish and operate an ethanol anti-idling power unit research program. Roskam noted that GTI would be eligible for the grant as would any other 501(c)(3) organization that "has performed energy-related research". No further action was taken on the bill in 2007 after it was referred to Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation in mid June.
Later, Roskam voted against legislation boosting automobile fuel economy requirements to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The bill also encouraged the use of renewable fuels. On June 24, 2008, Roskam voted against H.R. 6346: The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. The bill failed when it was voted on following a suspension of normal rules to stop debate and it required a 2/3 vote to pass. Opponents of the bill said that price gouging is not widespread and that it is difficult to prove that it occurred. Roskam stated he voted against the bill as a protection of the free market.
Roskam, with Rep. John Shimkus, has proposed the Energy VISION Act that promises to all-but end America's foreign energy addiction within 15 years. According to the Baltimore Sun, "The plan mixes conservation and alternative fuel production with aggressive domestic energy exploration, including drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and opening vast swaths of land to oil shale development."
In a political debate Roskam referred to global warming research and consensus reports as "junk science". In 2005, Roskam received a 67% rating from the Illinois Environmental Council. In 2004 he scored 100%, while in 2003 he scored 40%.
Roskam opposes abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk, making no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
In his first year in Congress, Roskam secured "more than $50 million federal dollars…to expand health care facilities and programs and improve traffic congestion." This included $195,000 to fund the expansion of the new emergency room at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights and $243,000 to expand mental health programs at the Access Community Health Network’s Martin T. Russo Family Health Center in Bloomingdale.
On September 25, 2007, Roskam voted with the majority of his party against expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This bill would have increased funding for the program to $60 billion over the next five years and provided health insurance for 9 million uninsured American children (including those whose families made up to $83,000 a year and had access to insurance through their jobs). The bill passed Congress but was vetoed by President Bush.
On September 21, 2006, Roskam said that the U.S. should "stay the course" and that U.S. troops should not return home until Iraq is safe. He criticized his opponent Tammy Duckworth (an Iraq veteran)'s views on withdrawal, saying "the Sixth District is not a cut-and-run district." On October 23, 2006, Roskam said it was a mistake the U.S. didn't go in with full force in Iraq. Later, Roskam expressed support for quarterly status reports to Congress on Iraqi troop training.
Roskam supported the 2007 escalation in troops in Iraq, saying: "There are encouraging reports coming out of Iraq that Baghdad is becoming more secure, and the insurgency is being mitigated. This is a pivotal time. Iraqis need to seize this opportunity to provide security for themselves so we can begin to reduce our troop numbers on the ground."
On May 20, 2005, Roskam and six other Illinois senators missed a vote in the Illinois Senate on a non-binding resolution urging the United States Congress to protect Social Security and reject private accounts. The resolution passed 32-19-1, but no action was taken in the Illinois House. Roskam has said in a WBBM post debate press conference, "I am against privatizing Social Security, I am against raising taxes for Social Security benefits, and I'm against benefit reductions for Social Security.
According to a direct mailing by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Peter Roskam will protect Social Security by opposing any plans that reduce benefits. Roskam told The Hill that he opposes any measures that would add private savings accounts or slice up the current program to create a private account. However, Roskam responded to a National Taxpayers Union questionnaire stating he would "work and vote for Social Security Choice that will allow younger workers to have the choice of investing much of their Social Security taxes in regulated individual retirement accounts."
On January 12, 2007, Roskam voted with the majority of his party against the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower covered Part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.
Roskam ran for Congress in 1998 in Illinois' 13th congressional district to replace retiring Congressman Harris W. Fawell, but lost in the Republican primary to state Representative Judy Biggert, who went on to win the general election. Roskam received 40% of the vote to Biggert's 45%.
In 1999, at Biggert's request, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated a mailing sent out by a political action committee (PAC), the Campaign for Working Families (CWF), in support of Peter Roskam. The FEC did not find the Roskam campaign at fault, but CWF was found to have violated election law. The PAC was led by conservative activist Gary Bauer.
In March 2006, Roskam, running unopposed, won the Republican nomination to attempt to fill Henry Hyde's open seat. His opponent in the November general election was an Iraq War veteran, Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Hyde endorsed Roskam. The competitive race was called "the nation's most-watched congressional contest" by Eric Krol of the Daily Herald. The candidates debated on WTTW/Channel 11 (October 23), WBEZ radio (October 19), WBBM radio (September 24), and at the College of DuPage (12 October).
Roskam was endorsed by the Teamsters labor union, The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, and The Veterans of Foreign Wars. On November 7, 2006, Roskam defeated Duckworth by a margin of 51% to 49%.
In March, 2008, Roskam was again nominated to run for the IL-6 seat in the Republican Primary. He was opposed by Democrat Jill Morgenthaler.
In late October, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Roskam launched a new website at ObamaVotersForRoskam.com. The website displayed a fragment of a quotation from Democratic Presidential front-runner Barack Obama which seemed to indicate that Obama admires Roskam. The portion of the Obama quotation omitted by Roskam goes: "Having said that, have I said that he's wrong? I love him, but he's wrong." The Daily Herald called the website a "... move to grab a hold of Obama's coattails ..." The TV show Hardball with Chris Matthews featured a segment on Roskam's website. The Morgenthaler campaign pointed out that Obama supports Morgenthaler, not Roskam. However, Roskam won re-election, by a 16% margin (58% to 42%).
Peter Roskam defeated Democratic nominated challenger, Ben Lowe by a 27% margin on November 2, 2010 off year election.
November 1st, 2011