|Name||Gary L. Ackerman|
Jamaica Estates, New York , United States
|| November 19, 1942
|Last Modifed||Mr. Matt|
Nov 27, 2012 09:15pm
Married - Judaism -
|Info||Congressman Gary Ackerman is presently serving his eleventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ackerman represents the Fifth Congressional District of New York, encompassing the North Shore of Queens and Long Island, including west and northeast Queens and Northern Nassau County. |
Congressman Ackerman is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee where he continues to play major leadership roles in flash point areas of the world. Often, these involve national security, nuclear proliferation and terrorism issues in areas such as Israel and the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Asia and Latin America.
Ackerman is the Ranking Democrat of the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia which has oversight on U.S. policy towards nations in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is also a member and the most recent Democrat to chair the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific which has jurisdiction over U.S. policy in countries located in Asia. In this capacity, Ackerman made history in the 1990's by traveling to North Korea to discuss with Kim Il Sung, then the country's leader, the framework under which North Korea would agree to cease building nuclear weapons. Upon his return to South Korea, Ackerman became the first person since the Korean War to cross the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).
Ackerman also serves on the Banking and Financial Services Committee where he sits on two Subcommittees; Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit as well as Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. The Banking Committee has jurisdiction over financial institutions, housing programs, insurance and monetary policy�issues that are critical to New York City and Long Island. Ackerman is a champion of consumer rights and a fighter for financial community reform. He has played active roles in the committee�s hearings into the Enron, WorldCom and other corporate scandals. In fact, his bill to bar accounting firms from also consulting for the companies they audit, became law in the fall of 2002.
Congressman Ackerman is also well known for his efforts to feed the starving people of Ethiopia and for playing a leading role in the rescue of Ethiopian Jews and their emigration to Israel. He ventured to India, enduring sub-freezing temperatures in an attempt to secure the release of four western hostages. He is also the former chairman of the Congressional caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Active in the Middle East peace process, Ackerman has met with the present and most past Israeli Prime Ministers, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the heads of all the Arab countries in an effort to help obtain peace in the region. In 2002 he got enacted his legislation�which President Bush has invoked�that imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority should they continue their violence against Israel. In addition, the Congressman traveled with former President Clinton to Israel for the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Among Congressman Ackerman's most significant legislative accomplishments, was the passage of his Baby AIDS legislation, which became law in May 1996. The measure requires mandatory HIV testing of newborns and disclosure of the results to the mother. It also forbids insurance companies from terminating the health insurance of anybody who undergoes an AIDS test, regardless of the results.
Ackerman championed the issue of newborn testing after discovering that 45 states (including New York) tested babies for HIV but did not disclose the results to the mothers, using the data for mere statistical purposes. As a result, thousands of mothers brought their infants home from the hospital, never aware that their child was HIV positive. This legislation, which became the subject of profound debate nationwide, garnered such support that it was the only bill that session of Congress to have a majority of Democrats and Republicans as cosponsors. In addition, Ackerman stopped the anonyms testing from being reinstated in years that followed.
Also enacted was the Congressman�s bill that created the "Heroes" postage stamp, the revenue from which helps the families of rescue workers killed or permanently disabled while responding to the September 11 attacks. He also lobbied the federal government�in the wake of September 11�to use retired law enforcement officers as screeners at New York�s Kennedy Airport and he pressed President Bush to make good�which he did�on his promise to provide New York with $20 billion in 9/11 disaster aid. Ackerman has also attempted to ban the practice of dragging sick, diseased or injured animals too injured walk, into stockyards and selling them for human consumption.
In addition, Ackerman helped to force the State of Hawaii to change its discriminatory law that forbid blind individuals from bringing their guide dogs with them to the island. He convinced the German government to establish a $110 million fund to compensate 18,000 Holocaust survivors and to investigate whether 3300 former Nazi soldiers collecting German pensions in the U.S. are war criminals. He was also successful in getting Medicare to cover testing for prostate cancer. The Congressman also chaired a bipartisan hearing and investigation into whether New York city and Long Island officials properly utilized the spraying of Malathion during the West Nile virus outbreak. He also obtained funds to combat a return of the disease. In addition, Ackerman sponsored the first federal legislation to ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving.
Congressman Ackerman's recent accomplishments in the Fifth Congressional District include helping local defense industries convert to peaceful applications in the post Cold War era. Ackerman also persuaded the National Cancer Institute to fund and undertake the nation's first ever study of environmental factors causing breast cancer. The study took place on Long Island where the rate of breast cancer is among the highest in the nation.
Congressman Ackerman has obtained millions of dollars for environmental projects in Queens and Long Island including funds for flood relief projects, road and infrastructure construction, beach erosion and cleanup of Long Island Sound. He has helped to preserve the U.S. service academies as tuition free institutions including the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, in Great Neck, Long Island (as well as the Military Academy at West Point, Naval Academy at Annapolis and Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs).
Ackerman has been instrumental in improving mail delivery throughout the district and he convinced the Postal Service to recognize each Queens community by their respective Zip code. Previously, the agency considered each Queens neighborhood as being either Flushing, Jamaica or Long Island City regardless of the Zip code. He also helped ensure that the recently closed Air National Guard station in East Hills, Long Island and the Fort Totten Army base in Bayside, Queens remained as public parkland and he brokered the deal that allowed the Fort Totten�s Coast Guard station to move to the Merchant Marine Academy which consolidated costs without compromising safety. In addition, he saved the Eatons Neck Coast Guard Station on Long Island from closing down.
Ackerman has also secured millions in federal dollars for education in Queens and Long Island as well for local community and nonprofit organizations, volunteer fire departments, New York City and Nassau County police departments, hospitals, housing agencies and various neighborhood projects. He prevented nightmare traffic delays in Queens and L.I. by forcing changes in the closing of the Throgs Neck Bridge access ramps of the Cross Island Parkway; reducing the reconstruction time from 18 months to six months. Ackerman has also championed the resurgence of business in the area by leading trade missions overseas with several high tech leaders of the Long Island and Queens corporate communities.
In addition, the Congressman obtained funds for New York�s devastated lobstermen during the mass lobster die off in Long Island Sound and he�s obtained war medals that were either never received or newly issued, for hundreds of Queens and Long Island veterans.
Furthermore, Ackerman worked with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to improve the city's emergency 911 response time after he witnessed a tragic shootout in a Queens Chinese restaurant. Ackerman also maintains what is arguably the best constituent service in the nation, handling thousands of cases per year in Queens and Long Island. In addition, he remains the dean of the Queens and Long Island Congressional Delegations.
Born on western Long Island in a place called Brooklyn on November 19, 1942, Ackerman was raised in Flushing, Queens. He attended local public schools, Brooklyn Technical High School and was graduated from Queens College in 1965. After college, Ackerman became a New York City School teacher where he taught social studies and math to junior high school students in Queens.
Following the birth of his first child in 1969, Ackerman petitioned the New York City Board of Education for an unpaid leave of absence to spend time with his newborn daughter. His request was denied under then existing policy which reserved unpaid "maternity-child care" leave to women only.
In what was to be a forerunner of the Federal Family Leave Act, then teacher Ackerman successfully sued the Board in a landmark case which established the right of either parent to receive unpaid leave for child care. A quarter of a century later, Ackerman, in the House-Senate Conference Committee, signed the report of the Family and Medical Leave Act which became the law of the land.
Ackerman's second career move occurred in 1970, when he left his teaching position to start a weekly community newspaper in Queens called "The Flushing Tribune" which soon became "The Queens Tribune." That venture, which Ackerman sold in 1989, continues to cover local news events throughout the borough. However, in late 2002, Ackerman purchased an interest in the new parent company that owns paper.
Ackerman was first elected to public office in 1978 as a member of the New York State Senate. State Senator Ackerman was then elected to Congress in 1983 in a special election. Ackerman represented the central Queens area until 1992, when reapportionment reconfigured his district to the north shore of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Then redistricting in 2002 slightly redrew the boundaries again to its present configuration of no Suffolk County and additional communities in Queens and Nassau.
Ackerman, who sports a white carnation boutonniere each day and lives on a Houseboat while in Washington, D.C. (which he named the Unsinkable II after the Unsinkable I sank), resides in Jamaica Estates, Queens. Sorry girls, Gary is taken! He has been happily married to his wife Rita since 1967. The Ackerman�s have three children; Lauren, Corey and Ari. He is a very amateur photographer, an avid stamp collector and a boating enthusiast.