|Preceded by||Joshua Bolton|
|January 3, 2003 – January 2, 2009|
|Born||November 29, 1959
|Alma Mater||Sarah Lawrence College
Rahm Israel Emanuel (born November 29, 1959) is an American politician currently serving as White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. He served previously as Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 5th congressional district from 2003 until his resignation in 2009 to take up his current position in the Obama Administration.
Emanuel was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 mid-term elections and remained a top strategist for House Democrats during the 2008 cycle. After Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, Emanuel was elected chairman of the Democratic Caucus. This made him the fourth-ranking House Democrat, behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Two days after Obama's election victory, he was announced as Barack Obama's designate for White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel resigned from the House on January 2, 2009 and began his current job on January 20, 2009, the day of Obama's inauguration.
Emanuel is an influential member of the New Democrat Coalition. He is noted for his combative style and his political fundraising abilities.
During his original 2002 campaign, Emanuel "indicated his support of President Bush's position on Iraq, but said he believed the president needed to better articulate his position to the American people". One of the major goals he spoke of during the race was "to help make health care affordable and available for all Americans".
Emanuel frustrated Chicago peace activists who lobbied his office to reverse course on the Iraq war. In the 2006 congressional primaries, Emanuel, then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, made national headlines for engineering a run by Tammy Duckworth – an Iraq war veteran with no political experience – against grassroots candidate Christine Cegelis in Illinois' 6th District. Expedited withdrawal from Iraq was a central point of Cegelis's campaign; Duckworth opposed a withdrawal timetable.
In his 2006 book, co-authored with Bruce Reed, The Plan: Big Ideas for America, Emanuel advocated a three-month compulsory universal service program for Americans between the ages of 18 and 25. An expanded version of this idea was later proposed by U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama (who was later to choose Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff), during his 2008 campaign, in a speech on July 2, 2008 at the University of Colorado, in which Obama proposed a "civilian national security force" (this term being used in the spoken version of his speech, not in the original written version), which included expanded voluntary national service programs in many areas, such as infrastructure rebuilding, service to the elderly, and environmental cleanup. For some of these services, tax credits and direct pay, primarily for college tuition, was proposed. Obama's original proposal was for participation by all ages, but with required participation by all middle school and high school students for 50 hours of community service a year. That proposed requirement was later modified to being "a goal". Obama's entire service program proposal quickly became controversial, largely for being mistaken as a call for a national paramilitary force, though the proposal's only reference to military service was to volunteer participation in regular U.S. Armed Forces, as one activity that would qualify for inclusion under the program's umbrella.
Emanuel is generally liberal on social issues. He maintained a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and is a strong supporter of gun control, rated "F" by the NRA in December 2003. He has also strongly supported the banning of numerous rifles based upon "sporting" purposes criteria. He has aligned himself with the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Leadership Council.
In June 2007, Emanuel condemned an outbreak of Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip and criticized Arab countries for not applying the same kind of pressure on the Palestinians as they have on Israel. At a 2003 pro-Israel rally in Chicago, Emanuel told the marchers Israel was ready for peace but would not get there until Palestinians "turn away from the path of terror".
Emanuel has been called an ally of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley; other sources dispute that he has been an ally of Blagojevich, for whom Emanuel served as a campaign adviser. He called Illinois state legislator John C. D'Amico in 2008 in support of Blagojevich's Illinois capital bill, but withdrew his encouragement when he discovered Daley opposed the bill.After Obama's election victory, Emanuel articulated his view on the role of government as a positive force to face difficult challenges and solve national problems, notably combating global warming through green energy policies and completely restructuring the healthcare system.