Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
In his second term in the House of Representatives, Lincoln Díaz-Balart became the first Hispanic Member to win a seat on the Committee on Rules. He was also named to the Committee on House Oversight, the only other Committee whose members are chosen directly by the House Speaker.
The Leadership of his party named Díaz-Balart to these choice committees despite the fact that he was one of only three Republican incumbents not to sign the "Contract with America." He objected to provisions in its welfare reform section that would deny federal programs to legal immigrants.
Lincoln Díaz-Balart, who ran unopposed in the general election in 1992, was born in Havana, Cuba on August 13, 1954, to a prominent and politically active family. Several members of his family served in Cuba's House of Representatives, including his father, who was majority leader and majority caucus chairman of the House. In 1959, his family fled Cuba and lived in various places including New York and Spain. He attended the American School of Madrid and graduated in 1972. In 1976 he received a degree in international relations from New College at the University of South Florida in Sarasota and in 1974 he obtained a diploma in British politics in Cambridge, England. In 1979 he received a J.D. from Ohio's Case Western Reserve University. That same year he was admitted to the Florida State bar and began a law practice in Miami. From 1983 to 1984 he served as an assistant state attorney in Miami.
In 1986 Díaz-Balart was elected to the Florida House of Representatives; he was reelected two years later. In 1989 he ran in a special election for a vacant seat in the Florida Senate, where he served until 1992, when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Díaz-Balart represents Florida's 21st District where, according to the 1990 census, Hispanics comprise seventy percent of the population. He is a strong advocate for the interests of Cuban-Americans. In the 103rd Congress he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he concentrated on enforcing the U.S. embargo on Cuba and maintaining a strong U.S. relationship with Israel. In his first term in Congress, Díaz-Balart supported social welfare legislation, such as unpaid family and medical leave.
In the 104th Congress, Díaz-Balart was named to the House Oversight Committee and the House Rules Committee, where he became Vice Chairman of the Rules of the House Subcommittee.