Alcee L. Hastings represents his native state of Florida by serving as Congressman for District 20, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. During the 117th Congress, Hastings serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Rules Committee, is a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Dean and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.
Congressman Hastings was first elected in 1992 and is currently serving his 15th term in the Congress. Born in Altamonte Springs, he attended Florida's public schools, and graduated from Fisk University in 1958. He earned his law degree from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
Known to many as "Judge," Congressman Hastings has distinguished himself as an attorney, civil rights activist, judge, and now Member of Congress. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, he became the first African-American Federal Judge in the State of Florida, and served in that position for 10 years. Since his election to Congress as the first African-American from Florida since the post-Civil War period, Congressman Hastings has been an outspoken advocate for Floridians and our nation as a whole. Throughout his lifetime, Congressman Hastings has championed the rights of minorities, women, the elderly, children, and immigrants.
Mr. Hastings' legislative priorities include continued efforts to create jobs and provide greater economic opportunities for middle class and working poor Americans; make our country safer and more secure; ensure that our election systems are easier and more fair; support small businesses; invest in green energy and infrastructure; increase access to quality, affordable health care for all; ban assault weapons; fund Head Start and other education programs; strengthen and improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; protect the environment and pursue environmental justice; and provide family and medical leave to all workers. Furthermore, known throughout the world as an expert in foreign policy, Mr. Hastings continues to advocate for diplomacy before military action to settle disputes with established and emerging nations.
Among Congress' most respected voices in international affairs, Congressman Hastings is the immediate past Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Commonly referred to as the Helsinki Commission, this independent U.S. government agency was created in 1976 to monitor and encourage compliance with the landmark human rights and democracy-building treaty signed in Finland the previous year. Members of the Commission are appointed by the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the President. In 2007, Congressman Hastings became the first African-American to chair the Commission and continues his work in the areas of human rights, economic development, regional security, and parliamentary diplomacy.
As Vice-Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over determining the terms and conditions (known as "special rules" or "rules") under which legislation is considered, Hastings plays a leading role in moving democratic priorities through the legislative process. The Committee also considers "original jurisdiction" measures, which commonly represent changes to the standing rules of the House, or measures that contain special rules.
As a Senior Democratic Whip, Mr. Hastings continues to be a leading voice in the Democratic Caucus, underscoring his commitment to work closely on a bi-partisan basis with his colleagues in both the House and Senate. He is also Co-Chairman and founder of the Congressional Everglades Caucus. In addition, as Dean and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation, Mr. Hastings works closely with his Florida colleagues on issues of particular importance to the State.
With over 10 years of experience in the intelligence community, Mr. Hastings remains committed to ensuring our national security and protecting the American people. In the 111th Congress, Mr. Hastings served as Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was a member of its Subcommittee on Terrorism, HUMINT (Human Intelligence), Analysis, and Counterintelligence, as well as the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management. Previously, he also worked to improve our electoral system in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Democratic Select Committee on Election Reform.
Congressman Hastings is the proud recipient of numerous honors and awards bestowed on him from organizations both at home and abroad. His governing philosophy is simple: he firmly believes that progress and change can be achieved through mutual respect and appreciation, and that individuals and communities can see beyond the limits of parochialism, enabling them to better understand each other.