By The Hill Editors - 03/29/11 10:19 AM EDT
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is best known for two things: She hung up on President Obama when he called her on the phone (not believing she wasn’t being punked), and she is a staunch opponent of thawing relations with Cuba while it continues to be run by the Castro tyranny.
As the new chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen could make a significant new mark during this Congress.
The Obama-Ros-Lehtinen relationship got off to a rocky start when, as president-elect, Obama called her when she was the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Thinking it was a prank, she hung up. Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called her back, and she hung up on him, too.
While that misunderstanding was amusing, Ros-Lehtinen’s second high-profile interaction with the Obama administration is unlikely to be. She will have center stage as Congress returns to what some are calling the third war on Obama’s watch.
There are many questions about our military action in Libya, including: What is the mission? Does it include the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi? How long will the no-fly zone last?
Ros-Lehtinen doesn’t bite her tongue when describing dictators, evidenced by Fidel Castro dubbing her a “ferocious she-wolf.”
So it’s highly unlikely she’ll say anything sympathetic about Gadhafi. In a recent statement, she noted that Gadhafi’s ties to terrorism had resulted in the deaths of Americans.
The House Armed Services Committee will also be holding a hearing this week on Libya, and that panel typically gets far more ink than Ros-Lehtinen’s panel.
Yet Libya is a military as well as a diplomatic effort, making oversight a perfect fit for the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Other committee members who will likely make their voices heard include Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.).