Eliot Lance Engel (born February 18, 1947) is an American Democratic politician from the U.S. state of New York who currently represents the New York State 17th Congressional District (map). The district encompasses portions of the Bronx, Westchester County, and Rockland County. It includes such neighborhoods as Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood and Wakefield in the Bronx, Mount Vernon and parts of Yonkers in Westchester, and the towns of Ramapo, Orangetown, and the southern half of Clarkstown in Rockland County.
Engel was born in The Bronx and he graduated from Hunter-Lehman College. He received his Masters Degree in 1973 from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) and his Law Degree from New York Law School in 1987. Engel was elected to the New York general assembly as a Democrat in 1977.
He is married to Patricia Ennis Engel. They have three children, Julia, Jonathan and Philip.
Engel ran for, and won, re-election in 2006 for his tenth term.
Eliot Engel was a strong supporter of a massive military campaign against Iraq in 2002, refusing to meet with and ultimately rebuffing constituents who asked him to vote against the measure. On October 10, 2002, he was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq. As the war dragged on, his position changed. He now responds to questions about his support for the war by saying that had he known then what he now knows, he would have acted differently.
Congressman Engel has struck up an alliance the controversial Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which was founded by the Reverend John Hagee and has spoken at their Washington-Israel Summit in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Engel's scheduled participation at the CUFI Summit on July 22 was questioned by members of his constiuency. Hagee had reportedly made anti-Catholic, anti-gay, and anti-semitic remarks in his books, speeches, and sermons that upset some voters in Engel's congressional district.
Since his election to Congress in 1988 Engel has faced a series of contentious primary challenges from within the Democratic Party. In 2000, Engel defeated a high-profile challenge from then Bronx State Senator Larry Seabrook, who had received the support of Bronx County Democratic Party Chairman Roberto Ramirez, among others.
In 2006, Engel faced a primary challenge from Jessica Flagg, who based her campaign on the opposition to the Iraq War, and criticism of Engel's refusal to publicly support an immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. In a previous challenge to Engel in 2004, Flagg got 11% of the Democratic primary vote. In her 2006 run she got 18 percent.