U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood

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After being re-elected with no opponent with on November 5, 2002, Congressman Ray LaHood is serving his fifth term in Congress. He represents the people of the 18th Congressional District of Illinois, which is largely the same district Abraham Lincoln represented during his service in Congress.

For the 108th Congress, Ray continues his service on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the panel that oversees federal discretionary spending, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is the Chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Policy and National Security Subcommittee for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Within the House Appropriations Committee, Ray serves on the Agriculture and Legislative Subcommittees, as well as the Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Subcommittee. He is Vice Chairman of the Legislative Subcommittee.

During his Congressional tenure, Ray has earned a national reputation as a Member with a reasonable, common sense voice that reflects the values of the central Illinois district which he represents. A national publication named him one of Capitol Hill's 50 “Most Effective” legislators in 1999. He is widely viewed as someone who has a deep respect for the institution of Congress and who works across party lines to achieve policy goals.

More importantly, though, the people of Central Illinois know Ray as someone who advocates the best interests of the citizens he represents. The State Journal Register noted, "we are particularly impressed with his tireless effort to serve his district."

Several issues, both local and national, have forged Ray's reputation over the past few years.

He has led efforts to establish a higher level of civility, decorum, and bipartisanship in the House of Representatives. He was co-founder of the biennial Congressional Bipartisan Retreat, an event which enables representatives and their families to become better acquainted outside of the Washington atmosphere.

Locally, Ray has led efforts to work with all elected officials in assisting communities with the various issues they face. He regularly convenes bipartisan meetings with the area's state representatives and senators and often meets with local mayors and other elected officials.

To viewers of C-SPAN, Ray is a recognizable figure as he has probably spent more hours chairing the proceedings of the House of Representatives since 1995 than any other Member. He has been widely praised for his non-partisan handling of many contentious debates.

Ray has been an outspoken proponent of reducing the nation's $5.5 trillion debt, and he continues to believe this should be Congress' top priority.

He has taken great pride in the 18th District's ties to Abraham Lincoln and he has been an advocate for advancing the legacy of the 16th President. He authored a law that established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to lay the groundwork for celebrating Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2009. He also has been a lead Capitol Hill supporter for the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

Improving race relations in the United States has also been a top priority for Ray. He has twice traveled with other Congressmen and civil rights leaders to Alabama on the annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage. He has been blunt in his condemnation of hate groups and he has worked with local leaders to promote economic opportunities for minorities.

Ray is also viewed as the foremost proponent for preserving the Illinois River. He has worked hard to highlight the importance of restoring the river. He is the chief Capitol Hill supporter for Illinois Rivers 2020, a 20-year program to restore the river's watershed. He also led efforts to secure Illinois' inclusion in the Conservation Reserved Enhancement Program, a unique and highly successful environmental program for the Illinois River.

Agriculture continues as one of Ray's top priorities. With some of the finest farmland in the world, the 18th Congressional District has a tremendous farming heritage. Ray has been a leader in the promotion of ethanol, has worked to open foreign markets to American products, and has defended family farming through his criticism of large-scale consolidation in agri-business.

Ray has also led efforts to enhance central Illinois' infrastructure and promote economic development. He has worked to secure funds to improve local airports and highways, while also helping local communities with various efforts to attract industry and increase employment opportunities. Ray has particularly emphasized rural development through assisting economic efforts in the many rural communities he represents.

Ray considers voting on behalf of those he represents as his most important duty and has maintained a voting attendance record of more than 99 percent. He insists that constituent service is at the heart of being an elected official and he travels to all points in the district to listen to those he represents.

Ray LaHood was born December 6, 1945 and is a native of Peoria. He is the grandson of an immigrant from Lebanon and the son of a restaurant manager. Ray worked his way through school attending Spalding Institute high school, Canton Junior College, and Bradley University. He earned a B.S. degree in Education and Sociology from Bradley in 1971. In 2000, Ray received an honorary doctorate in Political Science from Lincoln College.

A teacher by training, Ray started his career teaching junior high school students in Catholic and public schools. He then moved to Rock Island where he served as the Chief Planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Commission, Director of the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau, and as District Administrative Assistant for Congressman Tom Railsback.

After serving in the Illinois State House of Representatives in 1982, Ray worked for U.S. House Republican Leader Robert Michel as District Administrative Assistant and, for four years, Chief of Staff. He succeeded Mr. Michel upon his retirement in January of 1995.

In 1999, Ray received Peoria Notre Dame High School's Distinguished Alumnus award. Other awards include: the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Chamber of Commerce's Spirit of Enterprise award; the Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture award; the Guardian of Small Business award from the National Federal of Independent Business; the Guardian of Medicare Award from the United Seniors Association; and the Tax Fighter Award from the National Tax-Limitation Committee.

Ray's current service activities include the Board of Trustees of Bradley University; Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University; Congressional Board of Advisors for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council; and the Downtown Rotary Club of Peoria. He has been involved in numerous community organizations and activities in the past.

Ray is married to Kathy and they have four children: Darin (and Kristen Noble LaHood), Drs. Amy (and Kevin Gebke), Sam, and Sara and two grandchildren, Ella Mae Gebke and McKay LaHood.


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1424 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515


100 NE Monroe, Peoria, IL 61602


3050 Montvale Drive, Suite D, Springfield, IL 62704


209 West State, Jacksonville, IL 62650