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Congressman William J. Pascrell, Jr

Official biography as of July 1, 2009

William J. Pascrell, Jr. was born on January 25, 1937 in Paterson, New Jersey and has lived in the Silk City all of his life.  He was first sworn in to the United States House of Representatives, representing the Eighth Congressional District of New Jersey, in November of 1996 and was sworn into his seventh term in January of 2009.  The Congressman is married to the former Elsie Marie Botto and they have three children, William III, Glenn Martin, and David Joseph. Bill and Elsie are also the proud grandparents of William IV, Christopher and Megan Margaret.

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Bill attended St. George's Elementary School in Paterson and graduated in 1955 from St. John the Baptist High School, where he was elected Student Council President. Following graduation, Bill attended Fordham University in New York, receiving a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and a Master's degree in Philosophy. He is a veteran of the United States Army and the Army Reserve, having received an honorable discharge in 1967.

Bill began his professional career as a high school teacher in New Jersey, where he taught for 12 years. He was appointed to the Paterson Board of Education, and served thereafter as President of the Board.  He was an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Additionally, Bill served for seven years on the Board of Trustees of Passaic County Community College . In 1987, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly.  He eventually was elevated to the position of Minority Leader Pro Tempore. In 1990, Bill was elected Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey's third largest city. Bill’s efforts, both as a Mayor and Assemblyman, were recognized in 1996 as he was named New Jersey’s "Mayor of the Year" by his fellow Mayors, and "Legislator of the Year" by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

Bill has brought a commitment and day-to-day service to the Congress of the United States.  Bill’s tenacity and dedication as a U.S. Congressman has been marked by his rise in leadership on issues critical to all Americans.  

At the start of the 110th session on Congress, Bill was selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the exclusive Ways and Means Committee.  Created in 1789, Ways and Means is the oldest standing Committee in Congress.  Due to its broad jurisdiction on critical issues - involving economic policy, international trade, welfare, Social Security, Medicare and health care policy - the committee occupies a pivotal place in the House Committee system.  In addition to legislating, the Committee exercises broad oversight authority in all these areas.  Bill is the first member from New Jersey to serve on the committee in over ten years.    

An established leader on meeting the needs of our nation’s first responders, House leadership turned to Bill to fill a vital post on the House Committee on Homeland Security which was created to oversee the implementation of the landmark Homeland Security Act of 2002.  Pascrell continues to be a strong voice in strengthening our homeland defense by fighting to provide for those on the front lines --our firefighters, police officers, and health care workers-- with the resources they need to meet the new threats we face.

Bill is a nationally recognized leader in Congress on the issue of fire safety, having proudly authored the F.I.R.E. (Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement) Act, a comprehensive federal commitment to our local fire departments.  The grant program, now titled the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and delivers federal dollars directly to career, combination, and volunteer fire departments--"too often, the forgotten part of the public safety equation," as Bill often says. His legislation was the first of its kind and remains the only real federal commitment to our nation’s 32,000 fire departments.  Fire departments in New Jersey and across the United States have benefited from this program.

As a former member of the House Transportation Committee, Bill has worked to modernize our region’s roads, bridges, airports, and mass transit systems.  He has secured millions in new funding to reconstruct some of North Jersey’s most dangerous roads and bridges.  The Route 46 corridor has finally been given attention.

Most recently, he has helped craft legislation to renew federal surface transportation programs.  Specifically, this legislation reauthorizes federal highway, public transportation, highway safety, and motor carrier safety programs, providing $4.8 billion for New Jersey highways and $2.1 billion towards New Jersey Transit.  Certain projects earmarked for funding include an expansion of rail service between Passaic and Bergen Counties, interchange and bridge construction throughout the Route 46 corridor, the establishment of a bike-pedestrian path in South Orange,  and the continuation of commuter jitney shuttles throughout the region.  The Congressman is a leader in efforts to move citizens to mass transportation.

Such work and success in Washington has not gone unnoticed by his peers. In March of 2003, Bill was chosen by his House Democratic colleagues to be a Regional Whip within the Democratic Caucus leadership team.  In his role as Regional Whip, Congressman Pascrell helps frame the Democratic Caucus’ policy agenda in the House of Representatives.  He works closely with fellow Members to determine legislative priorities and ensures his colleagues of the details of pending legislation and the schedule by which it will be considered by the House.  Bill serves as a liaison between his colleagues and the Democratic Caucus leadership.

Although dynamic in Washington, Bill is a Congressman who does not forget his constituents and their local concerns. Immediately after taking office, he began to address critical projects that had been repeatedly ignored or delayed, including the construction of Route 21 and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in Wayne and Glen Ridge/Bloomfield. This steadfast work has paid off, as the Route 21 highway has been opened after decades of delay, and the Wayne thorium site is finally free of hazardous waste after years of bureaucratic red tape. In Glen Ridge, Bill once again cut through years of government inaction, resulting in the long-awaited cleanup of radon and re-opening of the Barrow’s Field Superfund site.

The commitment to the needs of those he represents was no more evident than in his steadfast opposition to the Transco Marketlink pipeline project. Beginning in 1998, Bill led the fight to stop the Transco company from building an unnecessary natural gas pipeline through northern New Jersey. He worked tirelessly to coordinate opposition to the project, joining with a bipartisan group of elected officials across three states, the New Jersey State Attorney General’s office, and residents throughout New Jersey to challenge the market need basis of this project. In April 2000, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) affirmed Bill’s long-standing opposition by rejecting Transco’s bid to proceed with the project through northern New Jersey. The agency found, as Bill had long argued, that the project was speculative and there was no need to disrupt so many communities.

Another outstanding example of Bill working with affected communities towards a common goal has been his recent efforts to find solutions for the flooding along the Peckman River, which runs through parts of Little Falls, West Paterson, Cedar Grove, Verona, and West Orange. A long ignored problem, the flooding dangers posed by the Peckman River came to a head during Hurricane Floyd when the waterway became a deadly raging river, causing millions of dollars in property damage and taking the life of a Little Falls resident.  Soon after Hurricane Floyd had left its path of destruction behind, the citizens whose lives had been turned upside down were looking for help.  Bill listened to the needs of the community and brought in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the river.  Bill has secured over $900,000 in federal money to fund the Army Corps work and fostered an agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection which guarantees that every dollar brought in on the federal level is matched by the state government. Bill continues to listen to the residents that live in the area of the Peckman River and is committed to ensuring that the flooding problems along the river are solved once and for all.

Bill has also fought to have the Great Falls National Historic District made a part of the National Park Service .  In 2001, he took the lead in the effort to make the district a national park by drafting, introducing and shepherding H.R. 146, the “Great Falls Historic District Study Act” through Congress.  H.R. 146, which was signed into law in November 2001, authorizes the National Park Service to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Great Falls area as part of the National Park System.  A Great Falls National Park in Paterson would add  substantial federal resources that could be leveraged towards revitalizing the entire vicinity by refurbishing the beautiful, historic mill buildings and protecting the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi.

Most recently, Bill was named Outstanding Legislator of the Year by the Department of New Jersey Jewish War Veterans as well as the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars.  As an ardent fighter on behalf of our military heroes, Bill secured a site for the 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 Eighth Congressional District and will serve the more than 30,000 veterans that reside in the area.  Specifically, the clinic will be a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New Jersey Health Care System.  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 needing care.

Over the years, Bill has been widely recognized for his service and leadership. In May of 1999, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from William Paterson University for his “humanitarian attitude, zealous commitment to the people of his region, leadership, steadfast persistence and consequent accomplishments.”

Bill has also received the Humanitarian Award from the New Jersey State Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association. In addition, he was presented with a Special Recognition from the Brain Injury Association of America for his leadership in establishing the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.  Bill has also been recognized by Ceasefire New Jersey for his efforts to reduce gun violence in our communities.

Bill is the co-Chairman and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. He is also the co-Chairman of the Italian-American Congressional Delegation. To see a full list of Bill's caucuses and task forces, please click here.

Whether it is by legislation, untangling government red tape, or simply through day-to-day constituent service, Bill Pascrell has focused on the priorities of the people he represents. He continues to fulfill his promises, pursuing an agenda that improves the lives of the people he serves.



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