Howard Berman

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Howard L. Berman (1941-) is a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 28th District of California in the greater Los Angeles area. First elected in 1982, he chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is vice-chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Whorunsgov.com, a Washington Post site, says he is not well known, but, in his 14th term, he is " an efficacious legislative veteran who is considered one of the leading voices on immigration and foreign policy in the House. Like his longtime friend and ally Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Berman is widely respected on the Hill for his mastery of the arcane nuts-and-bolts of lawmaking. He has taken the point position on some of the most complex issues facing Congress — including the daunting effort to reform the nation’s patent and copyright laws — and has consistently reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on difficult topics."[1]

With Republican Henry Hyde, Berman wrote a law authorizing embargoes on nations that support terrorism. With Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, he updated the False Claims Act, signed by President Reagan that empowered whistle-blowers to sue on behalf of the federal government in cases of contracting fraud. It has been credited with saving billions of dollars.[2]

"There are few House members who have made such an imprint on legislation in so many areas as Howard Berman," says The Almanac of American Politics. The Almanac goes on to call Berman "one of the most aggressive and creative members of the House and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics."

Committee assignments

Congressional caucuses

Issues

Foreign affairs

HIV/AIDS

  • five-year, $50 billion reauthorization of our global HIV/AIDS programs

Terrorism

He introduced legislation to remove Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress, now part of the democratic government of South Africa, from the U.S. terrorism list.

Israel and Palestine

Berman is a strong supporter of the State of Israel, having told the Jerusalem Post “Israel’s security and the US-Israeli relationship is for me an issue that shapes my whole agenda in Congress and guides it,” he told the Jerusalem Post in 2008.[3] He has proposed additional funding.

On 16 February 2010, he asked for perspective on recent tensions, “We need to disentangle bilateral relations from the peace process...The United States and Israel have very good cooperation on any number of matters, and this will continue. These include keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the Goldstone Report, and security assistance. U.S.-Israel security ties are in many ways closer than they have ever been, and they are certainly far stronger than the news stories of the past few days would lead one to believe.Let’s keep in mind that peace talks are not a gift to one party or the other... "[4]

The Administration had real justification for being upset with the timing of the settlements announcement. A process was supposed to be in place to keep the United States from being blindsided by just such a development, and yet once again we were blindsided. The Israeli leadership needs to get this right and put a system in place so it won’t happen again.

</blockquote>Of the peace process, he said they are an "opportunity for both parties, not a gift to either...The Palestinians may not like an Israeli announcement about prospective housing in Jerusalem, and the Israelis may not like the Palestinians naming a town square after a brutal terrorist, but the talks need to go forward."

Iran

He is convinced that the State of Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons, and, while he supports the Obama Administration's diplomatic efforts, he feels more pressure is needed.
Several members of the Security Council seem unwilling to recognize the extreme urgency of the situation we now face. If recalcitrant governments seek to block or dilute the ability of the United Nations to take strong, swift action, then we Americans will have no choice but to act on our own.[5]

In the House, he introduced the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194), which imposes penalties on U.S. firms that export refined petroleum to Iran or assist its domestic production, and bars U.S. government grants or contracts with Iran. There are House and Senate versions of this legislation, which he hopes will be reconciled and go to the President for signature in April 2010. The draft is supported by groups as diverse as the Zionist Organization of America, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and J Street.

Foreign Aid

Department of State

In the 111th Congress, his top priorities include improving America’s diplomatic strength through a reauthorization of the State Department, assistance to fight terrorism in Pakistan, and improving the efficiency of U.S. foreign aid.

Intellectual property

In the Judiciary Committee, in trade legislation, combating international copyright piracy, and immigration reform.

Caucuses and groups

Before Congress

He and Henry Waxman were college classmates and active in the Young Democrats.

Upon his graduation from law school, he began his career in public service with a year's work as a VISTA volunteer. From 1967 until 1973, he practiced law in Los Angeles, specializing in labor relations. In 1973, he was elected to the California State Assembly.

In his first term in the state legislature, then-Assemblyman Berman was named Assembly Majority leader, the youngest person ever to serve in that leadership capacity. He also served as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Policy Research Management Committee of the Assembly.

Voting ratings

Organization Rating Date
AFL-CIO
American Civil Liberties Union
American Conservative Union
Americans for Democratic Action
Cato Institute
Christian Coalition
Human Rights Campaign
League of Conservation Voters
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NARAL
National Rifle Association
National Right to Life Committee
National Taxpayers Union
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Sources: Links to the voting ratings guides of the above organizations together with brief descriptive information on the organizations themselves, may be found at: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Interest_group/Catalogs

2008 Election

Candidate Party Vote total Percentage
Democrat  %
Republican  %

Source: Federal Election Results - final official tally

2010 Election

Education

References

  1. Howard L. Berman, WhoRunsGov.com, a Washington Post company
  2. Weinstein, Henry, “New whistle-blower law hailed,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 4, 1986(10)
  3. Krieger, Hilary Leila, (23 June 2008), "Time to rethink", The Jerusalem Post
  4. Berman on Recent Events in U.S.-Israeli Relations: Let’s Put the Situation in Perspective, Office of Howard L. Berman, U.S. House of Representatives, 16 March 2010
  5. Howard L. Berman (20 March 2010), Iran's Nuclear Clock, International Herald Tribune