Elise Stefanik was born in Albany, New York, in 1984 to Melanie and Ken Stefanik. Her parents own Premium Plywood Products, a wholesale plywood distributor based in Guilderland Center. She is of Czech and Italian descent. After graduating from the Albany Academy for Girls, she entered Harvard University, graduating with a degree in Government in 2006. While at Harvard, she received an honorable mention for the Women's Leadership Award. On January 11, 2021, the Harvard Institute of Politics removed Stefanik from its Senior Advisory Committee in the wake of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol five days earlier, pointing to her unfounded claims of voter fraud in the November election. After graduating from Harvard, she joined the administration of President George W. Bush, working as staff to the Domestic Policy Council. Stefanik worked in the office of the White House Chief of Staff for Joshua Bolten, Bush's second deputy chief of staff. She also helped prepare the Republican platform in 2012, served as director of new media for Tim Pawlenty's presidential exploratory committee, and worked at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Initiative. Stefanik managed Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan's debate preparation during the 2012 presidential election. Following the Romney–Ryan loss in the 2012 presidential election, she returned to upstate New York, and joined her parents' business.
Elise Marie Stefanik (/stəˈfɑːnɪk/; born July 2, 1984) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New York's 21st congressional district since 2015. The district covers most of the North Country, as well as most of the Adirondacks. It also includes some of the outer suburbs of Utica and the Capital District.
On January 12, 2021, Harvard University announced it was removing Stefanik from the Harvard University Institute of Politics over her role in promoting false claims of widespread fraud in the presidential election. Doug Elmendorf, the dean of Harvard Kennedy School, said Stefanik would no longer serve on the school’s Senior Advisory Committee, following a review by school leaders. “Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect,” Elmendorf said in a statement. “Moreover, these assertions and statements do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen.” Elmendorf said he asked Stefanik, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, to step aside from the board. After she declined to do so, Elmendorf removed her from the post. Stefanik put out a statement, saying Harvard caved "to the woke Left."
In August 2013, Stefanik declared her candidacy in the 2014 election for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 21st congressional district. The district had been in Republican hands for 100 years, before Democrat Bill Owens was elected to represent it in a 2009 special election. In 2014, Owens opted not to seek re-election.
Stefanik defeated Matt Doheny in the 2014 Republican primary election, 61 to 39 percent. She faced Aaron Woolf, the Democratic Party nominee, and Matt Funiciello, the Green Party nominee, in the general election on November 4. Stefanik defeated Woolf and Funiciello, gaining 55.2% to their 33.5% and 10.6%, respectively. At age 30, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Upon her first House election in 2014, Stefanik, then aged 30, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the time. A strong supporter of Donald Trump, she opposed his 2019 impeachment in the Trump-Ukraine scandal. She supported a lawsuit that attempted to overturn Trump's electoral defeat in the 2020 election, and just hours after the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, she voted to object to Pennsylvania's electoral college votes.
Stefanik moved into the 21st Congressional District immediately prior to beginning her first campaign. She bought a home in Willsboro, a suburb of Plattsburgh; her parents had owned a vacation home in Willsboro for many years. As of April 2014, she owned a minority interest in a townhouse near Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C., valued at $1.3 million.
In January 2015, Stefanik was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee. She was elected by the freshman Representatives in the 114th Congress to serve as the Freshman Representative to the Policy Committee.
In February 2015, she was appointed vice chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness.
In a July 2015 profile in The Washington Times, Jacqueline Klimas noted that Stefanik was the only freshman on that year's conference committee for the defense policy bill, a position accorded to her "because of her extensive experience in foreign policy — working in the George W. Bush administration, prepping Rep. Paul Ryan for his vice presidential debates, and listening to commanders at Fort Drum in her home district". Jack Collens, a political science professor at Siena College, told Klimas that Stefanik's prize committee position signalled that party leaders wanted Stefanik to be part of "the next generation of Republican leaders".
Stefanik ran for re-election in 2016. She ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Stefanik supported Donald Trump for president after he won the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries.
In 2017, Stefanik co-sponsored the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313) in the 115th Congress – legislation that, among other things, would eliminate the genetic privacy protections of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 and allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. The bill is opposed by the American Society of Human Genetics.
In 2017, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton endorsed Stefanik for re-election, lauding her work on the House Armed Services Committee.
In January 2017, Stefanik joined the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, an apparent indication of "a moderate stance on climate change issues".
On January 11, 2017, Stefanik announced that she had been elected co-chair of the Tuesday Group, "a caucus of ... moderate House Republicans from across the country". According to Stefanik, "[the] Tuesday Group is comprised of members who are willing to work across the aisles to advance policy solutions for their constituents, and I look forward to working on critical issues facing our nation in this important role". In September 2017, the Albany Times Union reported that "Stefanik may be integral to the future of the [Tuesday Group], as some wonder aloud whether it can survive, with some of its top members exiting or planning to do so... Stefanik remains in a position to amplify her voice — for both moderates and her constituents."
On May 4, 2017, Stefanik voted on party lines in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and passing the House Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act.
Stefanik married Matthew Manda, who works in marketing and communications, in Saratoga Springs, on August 19, 2017. In December 2018, Stefanik and Manda moved to Schuylerville, a suburb of the Capital District.
In November 2017, Stefanik voted for the Championing Healthy Kids Act, which would provide a five-year extension to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
After the Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal Obama-era net neutrality in December 2017, Stefanik urged her congressional colleagues to pass legislation restoring the policy.
On December 19, 2017, Stefanik voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In a December 18, Facebook post, Stefanik asserted: "The final bill does not adequately protect the state and local tax deduction that so many in our district and across New York rely on ... New York is one of the highest taxed states in the country, and families here rely on this important deduction to make ends meet."
In September 2018, Stefanik co-sponsored, together with Seth Moulton and Dan Donovan, the "Cyber Ready Workforce Act" advanced by Jacky Rosen. The legislation would create a grant program within the Department of Labor to "create, implement, and expand registered apprenticeships" in cyber security. It aims to offer certifications and connect participants with businesses, in order to "boost the number" of workers for federal jobs in said trade.
Stefanik led recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections. In December 2018, Stefanik announced she would be leaving the NRCC to create a "leadership PAC" dedicated to recruiting Republican women to run for office. This group, named Elevate PAC (E-PAC), announced in an October 22 press conference that it had partially funded the primary campaigns of 11 Republican women from various states.
Stefanik is pro-life, but says the GOP should be more understanding of other positions on the issue. She opposes taxpayer funding for abortion, and supports requiring that health insurance plans disclose whether or not they cover abortions. In 2019, The National Right to Life Committee, a political action committee (PAC) opposed to legal abortion, gives Stefanik a 71% pro-life rating, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, a PAC that supports legal abortion, gave her a 28% pro-choice rating. She joined her party in supporting H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2017.
On March 26, 2019, Stefanik was one of fourteen Republicans to vote with all House Democrats to override President Trump's veto of a measure unwinding the latter's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
On September 25, 2019, Stefanik announced that she did not support the impeachment of President Trump. During the November 2019 hearings, in which Congress gathered evidence and heard witness testimony in relation to the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Stefanik emerged as a key defender of Trump. During a November 15 hearing, intelligence committee ranking member Devin Nunes attempted to yield part of his allotted witness questioning time to Stefanik, but was ruled out of order by committee chairman Adam Schiff. Stefanik accused Schiff of "making up the rules as he goes", and of preventing Republican members on the committee from controlling their own time to question witnesses. Nunes and Stefanik were violating the procedural rules that were established by an October House vote, and Schiff cited the rule to them. The rule Schiff cited authorized only Schiff and Nunes, or their counsels, to ask questions during the first 45 minutes of each party's questions for witnesses. The incident created a controversy in which Stefanik and others, including Trump, accused Schiff of "gagging" her. The Washington Post and other reporters characterized the incident as a stunt to portray Schiff as unfair.
In 2020, Fortune magazine included Stefanik in their '40 Under 40' listing under the "Government and Politics" category.
In December 2020, Stefanik supported the lawsuit Texas v. Pennsylvania, an attempt to reverse Trump's electoral defeat in the 2020 election by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out millions of lawfully cast votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
Stefanik has repeatedly been invited to appear on WAMC New England Public Radio but has consistently declined all invitations to explain herself and her views, most particularly in the wake of the 6th January 2021 Trump-inspired insurrection and attack on the US Capitol.
After a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Stefanik condemned the violence but rejected the idea that Trump shared in the blame. She has promoted a far-right conspiracy theory about a "stolen election," and just hours after the invasion of the Capitol, she voted against accepting the electoral votes cast by the state of Pennsylvania in the Presidential election.