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Biography

(An abridged bio for Rep. Pascrell is available here.)

A native son of New Jersey, Bill Pascrell, Jr. has built a life of public service around the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of Paterson. Bill credits his parents and his Italian-immigrant grandparents with instilling in him the value of being a bridge builder: one who seeks to bring together the diverse peoples and neighborhoods in our communities to forge a better society.

Bill was first elected Congressman for New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District in 1996. After congressional reapportionment, the district was reconfigured and renumbered to be the 9th Congressional District beginning with the 113th Congress in 2013. Bill is now in his twelfth term. 

Since 2007, Bill has served on the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, overseeing numerous economic issues including Social Security, taxes, Medicare, health policy, and international trade. On the committee, Bill has been a champion for the middle class by supporting policies that help facilitate job creation, distribute the tax burden equitably, craft trade agreements that benefit our workers, and make quality health care affordable for all Americans.

Bill is a leader in Congress demanding tax fairness. Bill is the lead sponsor of legislation to restore the full state and local tax deduction which was capped by the Republican tax scam law of 2017, stealing a critical economic lifeline for generations of New Jerseyans. Bill is also the prime sponsor on a bill that would finally eliminate the egregious carried interest tax loophole and is leading efforts on the Bring Jobs Home Act to support domestic job creation.

And as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Trade in the 115th Congress, Bill was a stalwart voice for workers, constantly demanding national trade policies that put our laborers first. As a senior member of the panel, Bill maintains that drive.

Bill has made environmental protection a top priority. Pascrell is the long-time sponsor of legislation that would foster development of offshore wind energy. He has voted to support the Paris Climate Accord and is also proud cosponsor of the landmark Green New Deal which would establish a framework for the United States to more effectively stop the effects of climate change. Bill enthusiastically led the designation of Paterson’s Great Falls as a crown jewel unit of our National Park System, shepherding into law the Great Falls Historic District Study Act. Bill worked hand-in-hand with President Barack Obama to see that the Great Falls and its 30-acre surrounding area were recognized as the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

In health care, Bill has always supported the Affordable Care Act and has been tireless in protecting it against Republican efforts to revoke health care for millions of Americans and believes we must preserve and strengthen the law. And as the opioid crisis has ravaged our nation, Bill’s Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act was signed into law in 2018 to bring nationwide a successful preventative program to fight the epidemic.

As the co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Bill has raised the nation’s awareness of the dangers of traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI was identified as the “signature injury” among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bill has worked to make sure that our soldiers are properly screened and diagnosed for concussions. Bill has also worked assiduously to shed greater light on efforts the dangers of TBI to young student athletes. He most recently authored the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act and also wrote the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act (the ConTACT Act) to advance federal protocols for youth sports which was signed into law in 2010.

Bill is a nationally recognized leader on the issue of fire safety, having proudly authored the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act of 2000 which established the only federal program that delivers grant dollars directly to fire departments across America. Because of Bill’s work, the nation’s 32,000 career, volunteer, and combination fire departments have applied for hundreds of millions in federal grants to purchase the equipment, training, and vehicles needed to serve their communities. The AFG program also funds Fire Prevention and Safety Grants for fire awareness and prevention activities, as well as fire safety-related research. Bill also crafted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant program signed into law in 2003 which provides additional federal support for local fire departments.

As an ardent fighter on behalf of our military heroes, Bill secured a new Passaic County VA Outpatient Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. The community-based facility is the first of its kind in the Ninth District and serves the more than 30,000 veterans in our communities. The Congressman lobbied hard for the clinic, arguing that too often, VA hospitals and clinics such as those in Hackensack and East Orange, are overcrowded and unable to handle the volume of veterans in our communities needing care.

Bill is the longtime co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus where he uses his post to watch out for the interests of community police departments across America. He has led efforts in Congress to protect numerous law enforcement funding streams from sabotage by the Trump administration and was the principal sponsor of H.R. 2379, a congressional reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, H.R. 1866, the Probation Officer Protection Act, and H.R. 1865, which would authorize the minting of a coin in honor of the National Law Enforcement Museum.

Bill also serves as co-chair of the Italian-American Congressional Delegation. In addition to serving as a legislative branch liaison to the Republic of Italy, Bill’s role ensures there is a strong voice to promote Italian-American history and culture in Congress.

In previous Congresses, Bill served as a member of the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure (1997-2007), Homeland Security (2001-2011), Budget (2011-2017) and Small Business (1997-2001).

As a child, Bill attended St. George’s Elementary School in Paterson and graduated from St. John the Baptist High School. After earning two degrees from Fordham University (B.A. in Journalism, M.A. in Philosophy) in the Bronx, Bill worked as both a high school history teacher and an adjunct professor. Bill also served as president of the Paterson Board of Education and as a member of Passaic County Community College’s Board of Trustees.

Bill served his country in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve and received an honorable discharge in 1967.

Bill joined the New Jersey General Assembly in 1988 in his first elected office, rising to become Minority Leader Pro Tempore. While serving in Trenton, Bill was elected mayor of Paterson, New Jersey’s third largest city, in 1990.

Through the years, Bill has been widely recognized for his service and leadership by organizations including the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Department of New Jersey Jewish War Veterans, the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars, the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, the New Jersey State Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association, Major County Sheriff’s Association, the Brain Injury Association of America, and Ceasefire New Jersey, and the Disabled American Veterans Charity. In Congress, Bill is a member of the prestigious Democratic Steering and Policy Committee that guides his party’s caucus.

Bill and his wife, the former Elsie Marie Botto, have three children and five grandchildren.

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