|Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2021
|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
February 3, 1998
|Constituency||6th district (1998-2013)|
5th district (2013-present)
|Member of the New York State Assembly|
from the 31st district
January 1, 1993 - January 3, 1998
|Anthony S. Seminerio|
Gregory Weldon Meeks
September 25, 1953
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Queens, New York, U.S.|
|Education||Adelphi University (BA)|
Howard University (JD)
Gregory Weldon Meeks (born September 25, 1953) is an American lawyer and politician who has been a U.S. Representative from New York since 1998. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district formerly included, in the last congress, most of southeastern Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, and the John F. Kennedy International Airport. His district is made up largely of working-, middle-, and upper-middle-class African-American and West Indian American communities, but also includes a small part of Ozone Park and part of Howard Beach known as Old Howard Beach, both of which are predominantly middle-class Italian-American communities. In addition, he represented much of Kew Gardens and northern Richmond Hill, as well as the largely Irish American western part of Rockaway Peninsula.
Born in East Harlem, New York City and raised in a housing project, Meeks received his B.A. degree from Adelphi University and his J.D. degree from Howard University School of Law. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He worked as an Assistant District Attorney and for the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York before joining the Investigations Commission on official misconduct and organized crime. He then was Supervising Judge for the New York State Workers Compensation System.
Meeks was criticized for initially supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama for president. His House primary election challenger was to be Ruben Wills, a former chief of staff for State Senator Shirley Huntley and an organizer for Obama. Wills said, "I was on board with Obama from Day 1; Meeks had to be dragged across the line." Some suggested that a young black political class was seeking to assert the neighborhood's power against what it saw as an older establishment, based in Harlem, that had long exercised disproportionate influence in New York City. Wills did not qualify for the ballot, so no primary election took place.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Meeks one of the most corrupt members of Congress in 2011. It was subsequently reported that his continuing ethical and criminal probes would cause his premature exit from Congress, but Meeks has denied this. In October 2011, hiphop artist and law school graduate Mike Scala announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary. Meeks won the primary and was reelected in the November general election with 90% of the vote.
In July 2020, after the primary defeat of House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel, Meeks declared his candidacy for chair. On December 3, 2020, Meeks defeated Joaquin Castro in a caucuswide vote, 148-78.
On August 25, 2007, Silvestre Reyes, chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Armed Services Committee, and four other representatives visited American troops deployed in the southern Philippines to overview the US-Philippines relationship. Reyes headed the bipartisan delegation, which included Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, member of the Appropriations Committee and the select intelligence oversight panel; Heather Wilson of the Committee on Energy and the Intelligence Committee; Meeks; and Dutch Ruppersberger of the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. They drove to the base of the Joint Special Operation Task Force Philippines (JSOTFP), a US-led body that trains Filipino soldiers against terror in Barangay Upper Calarian.
On the day of the fall of Kabul, Meeks said in a statement that the Taliban victory was "inevitable". He also said, "It is abundantly clear that the Taliban's advance was ultimately inevitable, at least without a commitment to surge tens of thousands of U.S. troops for an unknown span of time. That is a commitment the American public has made clear it does not support."
In 2013, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Meeks as one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington. This was as a result of claims that he purchased a home for over $150,000 less than it was worth, met with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez on behalf of a donor, and failure to disclose a private loan on congressional financial statements.
The New York Times reported that Meeks utilizes the option to use tax dollars to lease a car for use as a member of Congress. This option does not exist for Senate members. The lease is forgone by many members of Congress, but Meeks has held the most-expensive lease among all members. He has used tax dollars to lease a 2007 Lexus LS 460 for $998 per month. Meeks was unwilling to provide further comment when questioned by the Times about the lease arrangement, saying, "These are never lighthearted stories."
Meeks is of African-American heritage, and according to a DNA analysis, he descended mainly from people of Sierra Leone. His great-grandparents were living in South Carolina when slavery was abolished.