Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Out As Foreign Affairs Committee Chair

PHOTO: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, held a press conference on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 to discuss legislation.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs/Flickr

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) will leave her position as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee due to Republican Party term limits in the House of Representatives.

Ros-Lehtinen has served as chair for two years, and she was the ranking Republican member for four years. Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) will assume the role, a selection Ros-Lehtinen supports.

She told the Miami Herald the selection of Royce made her "very happy."

See Also:Has the GOP Reached a Tipping Point on Immigration?

Ros-Lehtinen is the only woman to chair a House committee in the current Congress, and also the only chair of Hispanic descent. And while many Republicans have said the party needs to work on appealing to minority voters to succeed in the future, not a single woman or minority is on the list of recommendations released by Speaker Boehner for committee chairs for next Congress.

Cuban-born Ros-Lehtinen has supported continued sanctions against the island nation and been vocal on other issues involving Latin America, such as criticizing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez' relationship with Iran.

She won more than 60 percent of the vote in her district earlier this month, beating out Democrat Manny Yevancey, who garnered only about 37 percent of the vote.

"It says a lot about the greatness of the country that a naturalized American could be chairing the Foreign Affairs Committee," she told the Herald.

She added that she would be pleased to accept whatever task Royce assigns her in the committee.

The Republican Steering Committee, chaired by House Speaker John Boehner, selected Royce on Tuesday, and the decision is expected to be ratified Wednesday. Royce has served on the committee since entering Congress in 1993. The committee oversees legislation relating to international relations of the United States.

"We are only as strong abroad as we are at home," Royce said in a statement. "The Committee will focus on expanding economic opportunities for Americans overseas. That includes reforming our too bureaucratic export control system."

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