Lowey, Nita Melnikoff

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LOWEY, NITA MELNIKOFF (1937– ), U.S. congresswoman representing parts of Westchester and Rockland counties in the state of New York. Lowey, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1988, was the first woman and the first New Yorker to chair the Democratic Campaign Committee (2001–2002). The daughter of Beatrice and Jack Melnikoff, Lowey was born in the Bronx, New York. She attended the Bronx High School of Science and Mount Holyoke College (B.A., 1959). She and her husband, attorney Stephen Lowey, had three children. They were active philanthropically in the New York City region Jewish community and were synagogue members.

In Congress Lowey was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs subcommittee. She was described as an extremely effective, committed, and influential legislator who "maneuvered skillfully through the appropriations process" so that she could successfully help New York. Lowey took a key position promoting a strong U.S./Israel relationship and was a leading advocate for the annual U.S. aid package for Israel. Additionally, she fought for and secured $50 million to help Israel resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union. Domestically, Lowey supported educational opportunity, school modernization, teacher development, and literacy programs, as well as support. On the Appropriations Committee she successfully pushed for increased federal investments in biomedical research on cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease and authored the first bill that mandated clear, concise food allergen labeling.

On the Select Committee on Homeland Security, Lowey advocated federalizing air and nuclear security and increasing port and rail security. She helped secure over $20 billion for the recovery of New York after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and has supported a variety of anti-terror measures.


A.J. Wall, "Lowey, Nita M.," in: Paula E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, 1 (1997), 897.

[Judith Friedman Rosen (2nd ed.)]