Ted Lieu
Official portrait, 2016
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
LeaderHakeem Jeffries
Preceded byPete Aguilar
Co-Chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2023
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byCheri Bustos
David Cicilline
Hakeem Jeffries
Succeeded byJoe Neguse (Chair)
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byHenry Waxman
Constituency33rd district (2015–2023)
36th district (2023–present)
Member of the California State Senate
from the 28th district
In office
February 18, 2011 – November 30, 2014
Preceded byJenny Oropeza
Succeeded byJeff Stone (redistricted)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 53rd district
In office
September 21, 2005 – November 30, 2010
Preceded byMike Gordon
Succeeded byBetsy Butler
Personal details
Born (1969-03-29) March 29, 1969 (age 54)
Taipei, Taiwan
Political partyDemocratic
Betty Lieu
(m. 2002)
EducationStanford University (BA, BS)
Georgetown University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1995–1999 (active)
2000–2021 (reserve)
Rank Colonel
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese劉雲平
Simplified Chinese刘云平
Hanyu PinyinLiú Yúnpíng

Ted W. Lieu (/lj/ LEW; born March 29, 1969) is an American attorney, politician and retired military officer who has represented California's 36th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2023. He represented the 33rd congressional district from 2015 to 2023. The district includes South Bay and Westside regions of Los Angeles, as well as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and Beach Cities.

Having emigrated from Taiwan at age 3, Lieu is one of 18 members of Congress who are naturalized U.S. citizens. He represented the 28th district in the California State Senate from 2011 to 2014, after being elected to fill the seat of deceased Senator Jenny Oropeza. From 2005 to 2010 he was a California State Assemblyman, representing the 53rd district, after being elected to fill the seat of deceased Assemblyman Mike Gordon.

Lieu served on active duty with the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps from 1995 to 1999. From 2000 to 2021 he served in the Air Force Reserve Command, and he attained the rank of colonel in 2015. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Lieu assistant whip of the 115th Congress in 2017. He has been vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus since 2023.

Early life and education

Lieu was born in 1969 in Taipei, Taiwan. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old, settling in Cleveland, Ohio.[1]

Lieu graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in 1987.[2] He studied computer science and political science at Stanford University, graduating in 1991 with a double Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Stanford, Lieu was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He then attended Georgetown University Law Center, where he was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. He graduated in 1994 with a Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude.[2]

Early career

After law school, Lieu served as a law clerk to Judge Thomas Tang of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1994 to 1995.[3]

Lieu joined the United States Air Force in 1995 and served four years on active duty as a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps. As a military prosecutor and adviser to commanders, he has received various awards and medals for his service, both abroad and locally, including the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.[2] Lieu served in the Air Force Reserve from 2000 to 2021, and he was promoted to colonel in December 2015.[4][5]

Torrance City Council

On March 5, 2002, Lieu was elected to the Torrance City Council alongside Mike Mauno and Pat McIntyre. On April 9, they were sworn in to replace outgoing members Marcia Cribb, Jack Messerlian, and Dan Walker, who had been elected mayor. Lieu served until his election to the state assembly, and was succeeded by Rod Guyton via appointment.[6][7]

California State Legislature

California Assembly

Lieu as a California State Senator, 2011.

Lieu won a September 13, 2005, special election to fill the 53rd Assembly district following the death of incumbent Mike Gordon. Lieu defeated three Republicans, including physician Mary Jo Ford and fellow Torrance City Councilman Paul Nowatka.[8]

Lieu was reelected in 2006 and again in 2008.[9]

Lieu was chair of the Assembly Rules Committee. He was a member of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, Assembly Judiciary Committee and Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee. Lieu was also chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace.[10] In 2014 he joined the newly founded Friends of Wales Caucus.

In 2008, in a surprising turn of events in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) English language controversy, Lieu and State Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco were able to help rescind the LPGA Tour Commission's suspension-penalty policy for players who failed to learn enough English to speak to sponsors and at award ceremonies. Both officials publicly challenged the legality and galvanized community attention to the LPGA's policy in August 2008 when it was released, which resulted in revision of the policy by the end of 2008.[11][12]

Lieu is a strong supporter of expansion of public transit in West Los Angeles, LAX, and the South Bay.[13]

Lieu coauthored a successful bill to bypass environmental quality regulations to build a football stadium in Los Angeles. The bill was intended to help the efforts of developer Edward P. Roski persuade the National Football League to return to the city, and was controversial among many environmentalists and legislators.[14] Further controversy ensued when it was announced that Roski had given over $500,000 to political campaigns, including $13,000 to Lieu's.[15]


As an Assemblyman, Lieu authored laws in the areas of public safety, child sex offenders, domestic violence, the environment, education, health care, veterans' issues and transportation.

Some of his legislative actions include the following:

Run for Attorney General of California

Lieu sought the Democratic nomination in the 2010 California Attorney General election. He finished fourth in the June primary, which was won by future Vice President Kamala Harris.

California Senate

Lieu won a February 15, 2011, special election to fill the 28th Senate district following the death of incumbent Jenny Oropeza. He defeated four Republicans, one Democrat, and two independents.[23]

On January 30, 2014, Lieu voted in favor of California Senate Constitutional Amendment 5.[24] The proposed bill asked California voters to repeal provisions of Proposition 209 and permit state universities to consider an applicant's race, ethnicity or national origin in making admissions decisions. After hearing strong opposition to the bill from the Asian-American community, Lieu, along with Senators Leland Yee and Carol Liu, who had also voted for the bill, jointly issued a statement on February 27 calling for the bill to be withheld pending further consultations with the "affected communities".[25]

U.S. House of Representatives

Official portrait, 2015

2014 election

See also: 2014 United States House of Representatives elections in California § District 33

Lieu was the Democratic candidate for the 33rd congressional district, formerly represented by Henry Waxman, who retired in 2014 after 40 years in Congress.[26] The 2010 redistricting placed a portion of Torrance, including Lieu's home, in the 33rd.

Lieu placed second in the June primary, but defeated Republican Elan Carr in the general election. He and Waxman are the only persons to represent this district since its creation in 1974 (it was the 24th from 1975 to 1993, the 29th from 1993 to 2003, the 30th from 2003 to 2013, and has been the 33rd since 2013).


Lieu successfully passed three laws in the 114th Congress, securing $35 million in funding to the West Los Angeles VA for seismic retrofits; reauthorizing the Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans; and restoring the Quarterly Financial Report. Lieu also introduced the Climate Solutions Act in the 114th Congress, which aimed to model national energy goals and climate emissions reduction targets after the state of California.[27]

In the 115th Congress Lieu introduced H.R. 669 – Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, which would prohibit the president from using the Armed Forces to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a congressional declaration of war expressly authorizing such strike.[28]

On March 8, 2017, Lieu introduced H.R. 1437 – No Money Bail Act of 2017. The bill proposes eliminating the money bail system for holding suspects in pretrial proceedings.[29]


Lieu is one of two Taiwanese American members of the 114th United States Congress, along with New York's Grace Meng.[30]

He was voted Democratic Freshman Class President of the House by his colleagues, succeeding Joaquín Castro. Lieu serves on two influential committees in Congress: the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Lieu voted against the Iran deal.[31]

Lieu received praise from the online privacy community when he introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent states from forcing companies to weaken encryption for law enforcement purposes.[32]

On September 16, 2015, Lieu and Justin Amash introduced a bill[33] to reduce funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's Cannabis Eradication Program,[34] under which real estate and chattels can be seized if they have been used for marijuana trafficking and abuse.[35]

On July 22 it was announced that Lieu would speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, along with three other California House Democrats.[citation needed]

On November 6, 2017, while the House of Representatives chambers was holding a moment of silence was held for the 26 victims of a church shooting in Texas, Lieu filmed and posted a video message calling for gun law reform. Lieu said, "I’ve been to too many moments of silences. In just my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need is we need action. We need to pass gun safety legislation now."[36]

Lieu is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[37]

Lieu at Politicon 2018.

On April 25, 2018, 57 members of the House of Representatives, including Lieu,[38] released a condemnation of Holocaust distortion in Ukraine and Poland.[39] They criticized Poland's new Holocaust law, which would criminalize accusing Poland of complicity in the Holocaust, and Ukraine's 2015 memory laws glorifying Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its leaders, such as Roman Shukhevych.[38]

In 2019, Lieu signed a letter led by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Rand Paul to President Trump asserting that it is "long past time to rein in the use of force that goes beyond congressional authorization" and that they hoped this would "serve as a model for ending hostilities in the future—in particular, as you and your administration seek a political solution to our involvement in Afghanistan."[40][41]

In December 2019, an attorney for congressman Devin Nunes sent a letter to Lieu threatening to sue over Lieu's comments about Nunes's relationship with Ukrainian-born American businessman Lev Parnas. In response, Lieu wrote, "I welcome any lawsuit from your client and look forward to taking discovery of Congressman Nunes. Or, you can take your letter and shove it."[42]

In October 2020, Lieu co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that condemned Azerbaijan’s offensive operations against the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, denounced Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and called for an immediate ceasefire.[43]

On January 12, 2021, Lieu was named an impeachment manager (prosecutor) for the second impeachment trial of President Trump.[44]

Committee assignments

For the 118th Congress:[45]

Caucus memberships

Campaign donations to Stanford University

From 2016 to 2018, Lieu made four donations totaling $51,046 from his campaign account to his alma mater, Stanford University.[53] In 2020 Stanford admitted Lieu's eldest son, Brennan.[54] National Review and The Washington Examiner raised questions about the propriety of the donations.[55] An opinion writer for The Examiner noted that other members of Congress have donated to universities and asserted, "Lieu's $50,000 to Stanford is the second-largest contribution on record from an active congressional candidate to a college or university."[56] Former FEC chairman Bradley Smith told the Review that donations to universities from campaign funds were not improper and "It's actually relatively common for congressmen, especially senators who might have big campaign funds built up, to give a bunch of money to their alma mater."[57] In 2012–13, parental donations needed to be at least $500,000 (nearly ten times the amount of Lieu's donations) before a student would appear on the list the Office of Development provided to the Stanford admission office.[58][59]

Political positions

Lieu voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time in the 117th Congress, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.[60]


Lieu describes himself as "100% pro-choice."[61] As of 2022, he has a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and an F rating from the Susan B. Anthony List for his abortion-related voting record.[62][63] Lieu opposed the Supreme Court decision overturning of Roe v. Wade.[64]

Civil rights and social justice

Banning sexual orientation conversion therapy

See also: List of U.S. jurisdictions banning conversion therapy for minors

In 2012, Lieu authored a bill[65] that bans the provision of sexual orientation change efforts (including conversion therapy) to minors. This bill passed both the State Assembly and Senate with substantial support, and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012.[66] This made California the first U.S. state to have such a ban. Several other states and the District of Columbia have followed in enacting bans on sexual orientation change efforts with minors.[67] As U.S. Representative, Lieu has introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, a bill for a federal ban on conversion therapy, following statements by President Obama opposing the practice.[68]


Banning hydrofluoric acid at oil refineries

Lieu supports banning hydrofluoric acid (HF) at oil refineries, where it is often the chemical used for producing the high octane alkylate component of gasoline.  He has pointed out the danger of storing the volatile chemical on site at refineries, where explosions are not uncommon, where there are limited safeguards against natural disasters and terrorist incidents, and where many plants already have long histories of limited accidental HF release incidents.[69]  A larger release could cause a toxic ground hugging cloud leading to a mass casualty event in the vicinity of the release site.[70]


ProPublica recording of crying children separated from their families played by Lieu on the House floor

On June 22, 2018, Lieu played an audio clip of children taken from their parents under the Trump administration family separation policy crying and calling for their parents. Karen Handel, Republican representative from Georgia, who was presiding over the session, called on Lieu to stop playing the clip, citing a rule (House Rule 17) that prohibits persons on the floor of the House from using "a mobile electronic device that impairs decorum."[71] Lieu responded, "Why are we hiding this from the American people? I think the American people need to hear this."[71]

Foreign affairs

Criticism of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia

See also: U.S. support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen

Lieu has been publicly raising concerns over U.S. support for Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. In March 2016 he sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Lieu wrote in the letter that the "apparent indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen seem to suggest that either the coalition is grossly negligent in its targeting or is intentionally targeting innocent civilians. ... Some of these strikes look like war crimes to me, and I want to get answers as to why the U.S. appears to be assisting in the execution of war crimes in Yemen."[72]

In April 2017 Lieu again criticized U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabian military campaign in Yemen, highlighting that Al Qaeda in Yemen "has emerged as a de facto ally of the Saudi-led militaries with whom [Trump] administration aims to partner more closely."[73]

Foreign espionage

See also: List of Chinese spy cases in the United States

In 2015, Lieu called for a Justice Department investigation into the arrests of several Chinese-American scientists for espionage.[74] On February 13, 2018, in a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing focused on Chinese espionage in the United States, Senator Marco Rubio asked FBI Director Christopher A. Wray about the risk posed by China's students in advanced science and mathematics programs.[75][76] Lieu criticized Wray's response as "irresponsible generalizations" implying that all Chinese students and scholars were spies.[77]

Personal life

Ted Lieu and his family, 2014.

Lieu and his wife Betty Lieu (a former California Deputy Attorney General) reside in Torrance, California, with their two sons, Brennan and Austin.[78] Lieu is Catholic.[79][80]

Before Donald Trump's Twitter account was permanently suspended, Lieu was known for rebutting Trump's tweets on his personal account, @tedlieu. "I just decided that if Donald Trump was going to say 27 crazy, misleading things a week, I am going to point out that he said 27 crazy, misleading things, and to not allow him to get away with it", Lieu said. He continues to use his Twitter account to express his political views.[81]

See also


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California Assembly Preceded byMike Gordon Member of the California Assemblyfrom the 53rd district 2005–2010 Succeeded byBetsy Butler Preceded byHector De La Torre Chair of the California Assembly Rules Committee 2008–2010 Succeeded byNancy Skinner California Senate Preceded byJenny Oropeza Member of the California Senatefrom the 28th district 2011–2014 Succeeded byJeff Stone U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byHenry Waxman Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom California's 33rd congressional district 2015–2023 Succeeded byPete Aguilar Preceded byRaul Ruiz Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom California's 36th congressional district 2023–present Incumbent Party political offices Preceded byPete Aguilar Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus 2023–present Incumbent U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byFrench Hill United States representatives by seniority 171st Succeeded byBarry Loudermilk