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. Heis 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.
While the American economy has expanded, it is painfully clear that the top one percent has enjoyed most of these gains. Meanwhile, middle class families are being squeezed and their economic circumstances are increasingly precarious. Although the overall unemployment rate is low as of mid-2019, many workers have seen little growth in their wages.
This rampant inequity has forced families to work longer hours or to take on multiple jobs. Fewer workers have guaranteed pension benefits, causing many to worry about retirement. Indeed, while the overall growth in prices is historically low, middle class families face ever-increasing costs for the longtime pillars of the American Dream: a decent education, quality health care, and plentiful, affordable energy. All remain elusive for millions.
The Republican 2017 tax bill was a terrible missed opportunity to create a fairer tax system and Bill opposed it vehemently. The law gave over 80 percent of its cuts to the top one percent, while the other ninety-nine percent saw little change in their paychecks. It only contributed to our growing inequality.
Bill knows that many American families have not come close to realizing their American Dream. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee with broad jurisdiction over economic policies, Bill uses his post to fight for an economy that works for all Americans. Over his career, Bill has built one of the most progressively pro-worker records among his colleagues.
Bill is the leader in the House trying to restore the full State and Local Tax Deduction cherished by New Jerseyans that Republicans capped in their 2017 tax scam law. He co-sponsored legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, phased in over time, while working to give tax relief for small business owners nationwide. Bill also voted to make permanent the temporary middle-income tax cuts that would have expired in 2012. Rep. Pascrell sees his job on the Ways and Means Committee as being a voice for middle-income taxpayers who have continually seen so little in the way of tax relief in recent legislation.
On trade matters, Bill knows that American workers have often been left behind. So he always demands a trade agenda that protects American workers. Bill has opposed many trade agreements precisely because he knew that they would not do enough to protect jobs here at home.
Additionally, Bill constantly has an eye on preserving the retirement options for workers. He supported the SECURE Act, a bill to expand the opportunities for small business workers to save for retirement, and has cosponsored legislation to provide relief to mulitemployer, union-sponsored pension plans to ensure they can meet their future commitments to their workers.
Championing consumer rights and putting investors back in charge of their finances is also a top priority of Rep. Pascrell. Bill co-sponsored and voted to approve into law the Credit Cardholder Bill of Rights Act. This measure limits the cycle-increasing credit card debt faced by millions of Americans and ensures consumer protections against the predatory practices of the credit card companies.
The financial collapse of 2008 was in large part the product of malfeasance by Wall Street. Bill was and remains a harsh critic of bad behavior and greed in the financial services system. He supported comprehensive financial regulatory reform, in order to hold Wall Street and Big Banks accountable, and put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts and “too-big-too-fail.” This landmark law enabled regulation of the shadow markets and stopped casino-style gambling with your retirement and savings by Wall Street bankers.
Bill was one of Congress’s biggest supporters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (CFPB), which was also enshrined by this legislation. The CFPB is tasked with protecting consumers from predatory lending abuses and other financial industry gimmicks and has been a critical bulwark to protecting regular Americans. He has signed congressional letters admonishing the CFBP when it has failed to do its job, but has also harshly criticized attempts by the Trump administration to destroy the CFBP through repeated cutbacks and sabotage.
Bill knows well that our economic recovery will only be complete when our economy is protecting and empowering middle- and working-class Americans, and he will continue fighting every day for those Americans.
A solid educational system is the cornerstone of a prosperous, vital society. Congressman Pascrell believes that a national, bipartisan commitment to providing greater resources for our education system is the most important investment we can make in our children and our future.
Bill has worked in Congress to fully fund pre-school and after-school programs, to modernize classrooms and reduce class size, to improve graduation rates, and to ensure that we have well-trained, highly qualified instructors in every classroom. He is using his unique experience as an educator to work for policy improvements that will enhance the greatest educational system in the world.
As middle class and working class Americans are struggling to create a better life for their children, cuts in health care and education have increased the hurdles they face. Congressman Pascrell will continue to fight for the priorities that matter to American families: strengthening education, increasing job training, and creating employment opportunities for Americans once they graduate from school.
Bill supports the goal of “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) to create an accountability system that helps ensure that all children, regardless of how disadvantaged, are given the education they need to be productive, successful, contributing members of society.
He believes, however, that the legislation is a rather blunt instrument meant to address a challenge that requires smart, flexible solutions. Bill believes that “No Child Left Behind” must be responsive to and informed by local educators who are implementing the Act’s provisions. Bill has worked to fully fund the NCLB reforms while advocating refinements of the law. He believes that the legislation’s emphasis should shift from punishing good schools for not being impossibly perfect, to holding states and localities responsible for monitoring student progress and achievement in ways that are reasonable, comprehensive, and achievable. Bill believes that Congress must find a way for schools, teachers, parents and communities to come together to focus on education reform that puts our children’s education and their futures first.
Bill became deeply involved in the issue of campus fire safety after experiencing the terrible aftermath of a catastrophic fire at Seton Hall University in 2000. In 2008, he introduced and helped pass into law the “Campus Fire Safety Right to Know Act,” bipartisan legislation requiring colleges and universities to provide prospective and current students and parents with a report of the school’s campus fire safety policies and records. This bill requires that campus fire safety information be made public, providing a powerful incentive for colleges and universities to voluntarily upgrade their safety systems. This past year, Bill introduced the “Campus Fire Safety Education Act,” bipartisan legislation that would create a Department of Education grant program to provide universities with the resources they need to deliver innovative campus fire safety information to their students.
Bill has always supported ways of finding students more opportunities to get involved and contribute to their local communities through volunteerism. In 2009, Congress passed and the President signed the Serve America Act, HR 1388, which creates 175,000 new volunteer opportunities for Americans by expanding existing programs, like AmeriCorps, as well as establishing four new service corps to address key needs in low income communities.
America’s students and parents have an unyielding advocate in Bill Pascrell. His experience as a teacher in New Jersey’s public schools has left an indelible imprint on his career in Congress. Bill’s love for education will continue to drive him as he fights against slashing education budgets here in Washington and for the rights of teachers and students back home in his district.
Energy & The Environment
For more than two decades, Congressman Pascrell has fought for the preservation of our air, land, and water in order to ensure a safe and healthy environment for future generations to come. He believes that we must protect our finite natural resources from polluting industries and use every tool available to combat climate change. Bill frequently reminds his skeptical colleagues across the aisle that the impacts of climate change are undeniable because they are already here. He has taken an active role in advancing legislation such as the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal encompasses two major aspects of Bill’s mission in Washington: environmental conservation and job creation. Bill is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously establishing high-wage jobs, ensuring both economic and environmental security for all Americans. Bill believes this goal is attainable only if we mobilize every facet of American skill and ingenuity to combat this existential threat of our time.
Through the Green New Deal and other legislation, Bill is fighting for the removal of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and agricultural sectors, cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites, and moving to upgrade all existing buildings to achieve maximum energy and water efficiency. Bill believes that in doing so, we can promote equality and combat environmental racism and injustice that occurs as a result of poorly-crafted, outdated policy.
As New Jersey’s only member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Bill is uniquely situated to combat climate change and global warming using oft-underused methods. In March 2019, Bill sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross demanding an investigation into imports of carbon emissions and the threat they pose to U.S. national security under Setion 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. As a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Bill remains committed to combating climate change through unconventional trade-related means whenever possible.
Bill proudly fought for key energy provisions in the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” stimulus legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama. To put people back to work and reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels, this landmark legislation increases renewable energy production and renovates public buildings to make them more energy efficient. It also creates funding to improve the energy efficiency of more than 1 million modest-income homes through weatherization, saving low and middle class families money and lowering our nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
In addition, the economic stimulus legislation provides $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments, robust support to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Bill was an active member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment for a deace, and has long advocated for these investments in clean water infrastructure.
But these measures alone are not enough. Much of the stimulus law’s water infrastructure funding is in loans, and communities simply can’t afford to pay back loans in these tough economic times. Because of this, Bill has worked closely with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft legislation that authorizes grant funding for municipalities to upgrade clean water infrastructure and to protect the public health from dangerous pollution. Congressman Pascrell has long been dedicated to these imperatives. In the 111th Congress, Bill introduced H.R. 895, the “Water Quality Investment Act” to ensure that our cities and towns have the funds they need to repair aging sewer systems that overflow during wet weather events. Through Bill’s hard work, this critical legislation was passed in the House of Representatives.
Bill also continues to fight every day for tough clean water standards and the federal dollars to help states meet their commitments. He works hand in hand with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, steering support to important flood control and mitigation projects such as the Peckman River, while ensuring the protection of our natural habitats.
Bill has made it a priority to ensure the cleanup of polluted and contaminated sites that are the legacy of industrialization throughout the Ninth Congressional District. Bill has worked to secure federal support for the cleanup of Berry’s Creek and the contaminated lower 17 miles of the Passaic River. He continues to hold polluters accountable for the cleanup and mitigation of environmental contamination throughout our state.
A lifelong resident of Paterson, Bill has dedicated himself to bringing much deserved recognition and resources to the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson, where Alexander Hamilton famously implemented his vision of an economically-secure America. In an enduringly fruitful partnership with community leaders, Bill has made important strides towards one day realizing the vision of the Great Falls as both a tourist destination and a refuge for local residents, most recently passing legislation to create a National Historical Park at the site. More information about the Great Falls can be found here.
Bill is one of Congress’ most prominent voices in the fight against climate change. He holds that our refusal to do everything in our power to reverse the impacts of climate change would be a crime against our children and the generations that will follow them.
Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park
On the first day of the 111th Congress, Congressman Bill Pascrell introduced the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act of 2009, HR 280. This bipartisan legislation was cosponsored by every Member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation and designates a National Historical Park at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. The language from the bill was incorporated into the larger Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, HR 146, which was signed into law by President Obama in March of 2009. Upon the completion of land use agreements between the State, City and Federal Government, the Great Falls officially became a part of the United States’ National Park System. The passage of this legislation is the realization of a dream that Bill has had since first becoming a Member of Congress in 1997.
Fifteen miles west of New York City, the Great Falls was the second largest waterfall in colonial America. No other natural wonder in America has played such an important role in our nation’s historic quest for freedom and prosperity. At the Great Falls, Alexander Hamilton conceived and implemented a plan to harness the force of water to power the new industries that would secure our economic independence.
Alexander Hamilton told Congress and the American people that at the Great Falls he would begin implementation of his ambitious strategy to transform a rural agrarian society dependent upon slavery into a modern economy based on freedom. True to Hamilton’s vision, Paterson became a great manufacturing city, producing the Colt revolver, the first submarine, the aircraft engine for the first trans-Atlantic flight, more locomotives than any city in the nation, and more silk than any city in the world.
New Jersey’s Great Falls is the only National Historic District that includes both a National Natural Resource and a National Historic Landmark. In a special Bicentennial speech in Paterson with the spectacular natural beauty of the Great Falls in the background, the late President Gerald R. Ford said, “We can see the Great Falls as a symbol of the industrial might which helps to make America the most powerful nation in the world.”
Scholars have concluded that Pierre L’Enfant’s innovative water power system in Paterson, and many factories built later, constitute the finest remaining collection of engineering and architectural structures representing each stage of America’s progress from a weak agrarian society to a leader in the global economy.
The story of Hamilton and American industry is not just a story of the State of New Jersey; it is the story of our nation. As such, Congress and President have seen the need to preserve and protect the Great Falls National Historic District and properly present it to the by brining a National Park Service unit to Paterson.
Bill believes that all 325 million Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. Health care must be a right, not a privilege for the few. In the years before health care reform, one out of three Americans under 65 years old went without health insurance at some point – often putting off medical appointments and going without the screenings and treatments they needed. This was concerning to Bill not only for those Americans whose health was deteriorating, but also for younger Americans who could not access screening and diagnostics for costly chronic diseases early. Bill also remains focused on protecting Medicare and Medicaid from any actions that would weaken either program.
As a former member of the exclusive Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill worked on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help the then 45 million uninsured Americans afford health insurance through marketplaces established in 2013. In New Jersey, health reform means improved consumer protections for 4.9 million New Jersey residents with private insurance coverage so they no longer have to worry about their coverage running out as they face unexpected medical bills and free preventative care for 1.1 million New Jersey Medicare enrollees. In the Ninth Congressional District, the law protects hundreds of families from filing bankruptcy as a result of medical bills and gives young adults the option to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 31. As Bill has spoken to groups in Passaic, Bergen, and Hudson County, he has emphasized health reform’s ability to create stability in the health care system to give residents across New Jersey increased peace of mind.
Bill supports the actions of the state of New Jersey in undoing the damage caused by the Trump administration’s rollback of quality, affordable, and accessible health care. New Jersey is establishing state-based marketplaces for ACA plans. These protections ensure that no New Jerseyans go without coverage.
In the 116th Congress, Bill is a cosponsor of H.R. 1884, the Protecting Preexisting Conditions and Making Health Care More Affordable Act of 2019. This legislation would lower health insurance premiums and expand assistance for coverage by strengthening the tax credits available for ACA Marketplace plans. These changes would allow more middle-class individuals and families to qualify for subsidies and gain access to affordable, quality coverage. The bill also reverses many of the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act by strengthening protections for people with pre-existing conditions, stopping the Trump administration’s efforts to push Americans into junk health insurance plans that do not provide coverage for essential benefits, and reverses policies that have needlessly driven up premiums and uninsured rates.
Cost of Health Care in America
Looking ahead, Bill believes that we must make our health care system more efficient by preventing and managing costly chronic conditions as well as paying providers based on the quality, not quantity, of care. While health care reform takes the first step to moving our system from fee-for-service towards coordinated care models and from focusing simply on illness to promoting wellness, Bill believes that the health of our country remains our responsibility in Congress.
Bill believes that his constituents in New Jersey and those across the country have waited long enough and that Americans should not be dying because they can’t pay for a surgery. Bill shares the nation’s urgency for a sustainable system that lowers the cost of health care. When the Affordable Care Act came before the Ways and Means Committee, Bill proudly supported it because it brought our nation closer to universal coverage. He also believes that the ACA can be improved upon and should have included a public option, a position he continues to hold. Bill is working every day so that we can create a system that will withstand the inevitable political storms and protect every American.
Congress is also taking the issue of drug pricing seriously. The House of Representatives is diligently working on and passing bills to lower prices, promote generic drugs, and provide transparency in our convoluted pricing and coverage system. Congress must make manufacturers accountable and provide necessary information to consumers.
Prior to the ACA, one-third of women who attempted to buy health insurance were rejected or charged a higher premium. Many women delayed or skipped necessary care due to cost. Bill believes that the changes for women’s insurance are essential. Because of the ACA, women are covered for preventive care screenings, protected from discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, and plans cannot charge higher premiums compared to men. Women and their families now have access to comprehensive benefits through the ACA Marketplace, including maternity care and contraception.
Bill is in favor of a woman’s right to choose and believes that personal decisions, such as deciding whether or not to have an abortion, should involve a woman, her family, and her doctor – no one else. He has always advocated for increased funding for family planning and education and supports prevention-focused legislation. Bill is a cosponsor of H.R. 2975, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which protects a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has continued the Republican war on reproductive health. Bill has repeatedly fought back against the Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides a range of preventive health and wellness services to millions of people worldwide.
As Bill continues to work on health issues within the Ways and Means Committee, he is committed to making health care coverage more affordable for all New Jersey residents and keeping the health care system accountable to you.
Bill has made homeland security a cornerstone of his work on behalf of the American people in Congress. He was named as an original member of the House Homeland Security Committee when it was created as a Select Committee in the wake of 9/11. Bill knows that our government has no greater responsibility than to protect and defend our communities from those who would seek to do us harm.
As a recognized leader in the House on homeland security, Bill was selected by his colleagues in the 109th Congress to serve as the Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology within the Homeland Security Committee. Chief among his responsibilities, Bill oversaw the government’s funding to first responders-and worked to funnel much-needed dollars to support those who serve on the front lines: firefighters, police officers, and healthcare workers. In this role Bill also championed the issue of interoperability, for which on 9/11 many brave first responders were not able to communicate with each other because of interoperable radio equipment. Bill co-authored the bipartisan “21st Century Emergency Communications Act of 2006,” which for the first time elevated the Department of Homeland Security’s interoperability focus by establishing a new Office of Emergency Communications.
In the 110th Congress Bill was a strong supporter of the first bill passed by the new Democratic-led Congress, H.R. 1, which finally implemented the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. This landmark legislation addressed a wide range of critical homeland security sectors including port security, aviation security, mass transit security, funding for first responders and developing strategies to reduce the appeal of extremism. Within this legislation Bill fought to ensure a new risk-based funding formula so that New Jersey would finally get its fair share of homeland security grants.
In the 111th Congress Bill took note of the fact that as we close in on a decade since the attacks of 9/11 we still do not have a comprehensive national strategy to counter the grave threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to our nation. In response Bill introduced H.R. 5498, “The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010.” This bipartisan legislation makes progress toward implementing the recommendations of the WMD Commission and will improve U.S. efforts to prevent, deter, detect, and respond to an attack by a weapon of mass destruction. The WMD Commission offered its full endorsement of the legislation and it subsequently passed unanimously out of the Homeland Security Committee.
Bill’s tenure in Congress has also been punctuated by his persistent, vocal leadership on issues facing our nation’s first responders. His landmark “Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act,” or “FIRE Act,” introduced in March of 1999 and signed in to law in 2000 by President Clinton, was the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the needs of America’s 32,000 volunteer, paid, and part-paid fire departments.
Bill knows there is a staggering amount of work to do in order to protect our nation. We need to secure our borders to terrorists, protect our railways and passenger trains, secure our stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological material and make substantial investments in intelligence technology, to name but a few. Bill intends to work aggressively on the floor of the House and in the Homeland Security Committee to see these goals accomplished and keep our country safe.
Justice & Equality
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky were wicked, evil acts. The powerful demonstrations that have sprouted up in cities and towns across our country in peaceful protest make clear that policing in the United States must change. Justice for these victims is essential, and charges against the officers are a necessary first step, but only a first step.
Each day, Black Americans find their lives under threat by the very people and institutions meant to protect them. Millions of Black Americans are rightly angry, they are frustrated, and they are tired because of the injustices they face. For them, America is not equal.
The brutal death of Mr. Floyd and Ms. Taylor, and the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Philando Castile, among many other Black Americans shows beyond all doubt that something is badly broken. Their deaths are several tragic examples of the violence inflicted on our Black American communities. Community policing that entails officers on the street and in the precinct house fostering constant dialogue with the citizens they serve is not enough. Systematic change is demanded to fulfill the promise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
To achieve this, Rep. Pascrell agrees that political leadership must come from the top. In a recent op-ed in the Bergen Record, he highlighted his vocal support for the need for change. The House of Representatives is hearing these calls for justice by moving with the fierce urgency this moment demands.
Rep. Pascrell is proud to support and cosponsor a slate of these critical measures.
Justice in policing. The landmark George Floyd Justice In Policing Act (H.R. 7120) sponsored by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and New Jersey’s own Sen. Cory Booker represents the largest policing reforms in generations. This legislation makes crystal clear Congress’s commitment to addressing reform head-on by outlawing police brutality, yanking military weapons off our streets, and at long last, ending racial profiling. The Justice in Policing Act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and will be voted on by the full House this week.
Ending racial profiling. Rep. Pascrell is proud to cosponsor H.R. 4339, the End Racial Profiling Act, that would at long last outlaw racial profiling by all law enforcement — at the federal, state, and local levels. Subjecting the power of the state to an individual solely because of the color of their skin is antithetical to everything our nation professes. No American should ever be stopped by the police because of their race. This change must pass Congress as soon as possible.
Stopping excessive use of force. Mr. Floyd died after an officer crushed his neck for nearly nine minutes. The footage of this act has devastated the world in its brutality. Excessive techniques like these have gone unchecked for years. Sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act (H.R. 4408), legislation named in honor of a New York man who was killed after being subject to similar excessive force, would enact a federal ban on the use of chokeholds or any pressure to the neck by law enforcement officers.
Reversing the militarization of police forces. The images of federal soldiers patrolling our nation’s capital sent a chill up the spine and bore more than a whiff of fascism. But the truth is that for decades local police forces have been given military vehicles, weaponry, tactical gear, and other equipment that have transformed countless police forces into outfits that resemble a platoon at war. These displays terrify Americans and lead to abuses. The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R 1714) would prevent the transfer of certain military equipment from the Department of Defense to local law enforcement.
Enacting a federal anti-lynching ban. That Congress still has not passed into law a federal ban on lynching 65 years after the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi shows just how far we have yet to go. This year, the House passed H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act by an overwhelming 410-to-4 margin, demonstrating the chamber’s drive to enact reform. The bill is still being held up in McConnell’s Republican controlled Senate. Rep. Pascrell continues to highlight the importance of the legislation to shame the Senate and ratify this bill now.
These represent just a few of the watershed pieces of legislation Rep. Pascrell is strongly supporting for passage in Congress this year.
There will be fierce resistance to many of these proposals. As the co-head of Congress’s bipartisan Law Enforcement Caucus, Rep. Pascrell is a stalwart supporter of public safety that prioritizes listening, community relationships, trust, and de-escalation. He has used his position to build bridges between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Rep. Pascrell led his colleagues to urge support for embracing change that will benefit all of us — especially Black Americans.
Comprehensive reforms are of momentous importance for North Jersey. In New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District encompassing Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic counties, non-white Americans and black Americans make up more than 40 percent and approximately 10 percent of our total district population, respectively. Their lives bear the costs of nonaction more than any of our neighbors. The time for action is now.
For over 20 years, Rep. Pascrell has been blessed to serve with one of his personal heroes, Georgia Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis. Congressman Lewis has taught Rep. Pascrell that growing as a people takes unceasing self-reflection, and that blossoming as a nation is a constant act of regeneration. And it also requires what he calls “good trouble.”
The enormous demonstrations we have seen and continue to see across America are the very essence of democracy. They have humbled and awed the entire world. They have shown that justice long denied can withstand the collective pressure of a nation standing together for change.
Until we grapple with the malevolent racism that likely killed Mr. Floyd openly, frankly, and productively, America will never be truly equal for all of our neighbors. Congress is working to lead the lead for this positive change.
Labor & Trade
Bill has consistently been an advocate for the rights and priorities of working Americans. Throughout his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, this son of a railroad worker has distinguished himself as a leading voice for labor in Congress.
As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Bill uses his position to advocate for working families in New Jersey. The Committee is the chief tax-writing body in the House of Representatives and has jurisdiction over a number of issues critical to every American family including Social Security, Medicare, and all international trade agreements. Bill knows a stable economy is critical to the quality of life for all Americans and he has worked toward this principle as a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Chief among his concerns are misguided tax policies that have redirected wealth to the richest 1% of Americans. Bill believes in tax fairness and feels that the federal government must use its resources to invest in critical infrastructure improvements and lessening the financial burden imposed on middle class Americans.
Bill was a strong supporter of legislation to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour and give up to 27 million Americans a much deserved pay raise. Bill supports legislation to restore workers’ rights by removing obstacles that prevent workers from choosing whether or not they want to form or join a union. In addition, Bill has been a tireless opponent of threats to federal labor standards, committed to ensuring that all workers can achieve economic prosperity in the safest conditions. Important to this approach are regulations backed by an unfettered Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) equipped with the tools to protect the right to organize.
Bill believes that the decline of American jobs is intimately tied to our nation’s international trade policy. Representing a district whose economy is dependent on manufacturing, Bill is outspoken in his support of trade policies that recognize the need to export our quality American products instead of simply importing goods made abroad. He believes America must be very cautious in conducting our trade policy and has led efforts against granting congressional approval of most-favored nation trade status for China in 2000, and fast-track trade negotiating authority in 1998, 2002, and 2015.
These trade agreements, along with others such as NAFTA and CAFTA, encourage environmental exploitation and a global race toward the bottom for labor standards in sweatshops overseas and here at home. If and when Congress considers a renegotiated NAFTA agreement from the Trump administration, Bill will examine its terms through this discerning lens. Any deal that lacks an assurance of enforcement of strong labor standards is a nonstarter to Rep. Pascrell because he believes unshakably that protecting America jobs is the first goal of any agreement. Taken together, Bill has worked to create a new paradigm for international trade agreements that provide real labor and environmental protections.
In tune with that approach, Pascrell has used his perch on the Ways and Means Committee to fight job outsourcing. He sponsors the Bring Jobs Home Act to provide tax credits to businesses relocating to within the United States and deny tax deductions to businesses that outsource from U.S. shores.
Bill knows that support for working families means more than just voting a certain way in Congress. It requires going the extra mile. Joining in solidarity with striking unions on dozens of occasions, Bill shows his support for working Americans in all aspects of his service.
In the face of continuing threats our nation faces, we are asking our first responders to do more and more to protect us. Whether it is handling hazardous materials, rescuing victims of a natural disaster, or responding to a terrorist threat, the responsibilities of our public safety officers have grown exponentially to face the challenges of a changed world.
As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Bill has been a vocal advocate for public safety and a champion of increasing assistance to those who serve us. He has fought to stop repeated attempts to decimate public safety officer programs. Bill also authored the enormously successful Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act, or FIRE Act. Signed into law in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, the FIRE Act was the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meeting the needs of America’s 32,000 volunteer, paid, and part-paid fire departments.
For years, Bill has won more federal dollars for New Jersey to pay for equipment and training of public safety officials. Bill has acted successfully to get our state its fair share of security grants by insisting that risk and vulnerabilities are taken into greater consideration within the State Homeland Security Grant Program. This includes his push for additional funding for the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which specifically addresses the unique planning, operations, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas like New Jersey.
Bill has long supported community policing that prioritizes listening, community relationships, trust, and de-escalation to keeping our communities safe. The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner and Philando Castile, among many other Black Americans shows beyond all doubt that policing in our country is badly broken. To bring needed reforms, Bill cosponsored the Justice in Policing Act to change the culture of law enforcement so trust can be rebuilt. This landmark legislation achieves transformative, structural change by combatting the pattern of police brutality and racial injustice. This bill outlaws racial profiling, mandates de-escalation training, bans chokeholds and other excessively violent techniques, halts the flow of military equipment onto our street corners, and brings transparency and accountability to policing. Bill also cosponsors several other proposals to achieve these vital goals to reform policing in America.
Bill was the principal sponsor of H.R. 2379, reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program. On May 24, 2019, Bill’s legislation was signed into law, permanently authorizing $30,000,000 annually for the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program. Since its inception in 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program has provided funding to more than 13,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, allowing for the purchase of over one million bulletproof vests. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 3,000 law enforcement lives have been saved by armored vests since 1987.
And with the understanding that true public safety holds many separate components, Bill has authored an array of diverse legislation. Indeed, Rep. Pascrell crafted common sense legislation that requires that universities conduct annual fire safety reports for their students in his “Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act.” Bill has also strived to ensure that federal chemical security standards do not preempt the stronger chemical security standards already in place in New Jersey.
Our nation asks a lot out of our first responders. Bill demands that Washington does all it can to help these men and women do their jobs to ensure the safety of all Americans.
Funding the Fire Grant
In March of 1999, Bill introduced the “Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act,” the first comprehensive legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America’s 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments. In its final version, the “FIRE Act” authorized $400 million over two years in competitive grants to the nation’s local fire departments.
Grants are awarded directly to local fire departments best able to identify their needs to be used to hire new personnel, initiate education and training programs, or to purchase new equipment. Paid, volunteer, and part-paid departments will all be eligible for the grants under the program, which is being administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Grants are awarded in seven categories: training, wellness/fitness programs, vehicles, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, fire prevention programs, and other miscellaneous grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. Fire departments are eligible to apply for grants in up to two categories. Smaller departments serving communities of less than 50,000 must provide a ten-percent match in non-federal funds, while departments serving communities larger than 50,000 in population must provide a thirty-percent match.
The Supreme Court’s misguided decision to overturn Roe v. Wade revoked the constitutional right to abortion and comprehensive reproductive care that millions of Americans have relied on for 50 years. The Court’s cruel action takes away a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own future and will have dire consequences for women’s health and safety. The verdict in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is one of the lowest points for our country.
Republicans have packed the courts with right-wing ideologues for decades to end the right to privacy and take away a woman’s right to choose. Terrified to eliminate Roe at the ballot box, Republicans have relied on partisan judges to do it behind closed doors. Republicans have succeeded in their quest, and Republicans are the cause of this decision.
Within weeks of the decision, Republican legislatures in at least 22 states have already begun to finalize laws to severely limit access, if not criminalize, a woman’s control of her own body. The immediate impacts of this decision will be felt most acutely by impoverished women, women of color, immigrants, and those in states with majority-Republican representation, who often already face barriers to receiving quality health care.
Rep. Pascrell strongly believes that a woman’s health care must be guided solely by her own decisions in private consultation with her doctor. Judges and politicians should not have their hands on a woman’s bodily decisions. The Dobbs decision will have catastrophic impacts on our nation both immediate and long term and may signal this Republican Supreme Court will soon target other precedents and privacy rights from access to contraception to marriage equality.
While devastating for Americans in the many states where abortion will now be banned or severely restricted, the Dobbs Decision does not ban or limit the right to abortion in New Jersey. Abortion is still legal in the state of New Jersey. In January 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act into law, preserving the legal right to obtain an abortion in the state. (More information about NJ abortion rights below.)
Rep. Pascrell recognizes the need for federal laws to protect health care for women. . Rep. Pascrell already voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act when it passed the House in September 2021. Rep. Pascrell has also voiced his support for expanding and balancing the current rightwing Supreme Court and is a cosponsor of the Judiciary Act of 2021 to do just that. Rep. Pascrell absolutely rejects further restrictions on human freedom and dignity. He will fight any attempts by Republicans to enact a national abortion ban.
Everyone should have the right to access the care they need to make personal decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures. We must never lose our urgency to erase this decision and reverse this dark moment in America.
Abortion Rights in New Jersey:
Is abortion legal in New Jersey?
Yes. Abortion is legal throughout pregnancy in New Jersey and the Dobbs v. Jackson decision does not affect people who want to terminate pregnancy in New Jersey. You still have the right to both medication and procedure-based abortion care in New Jersey.
Out-of-state patients have the right to abortion in New Jersey. You do not have to be a resident of New Jersey to receive abortion care.
New Jersey does not have any major types of restrictions on abortion, such as parental notification, waiting periods or ultrasound requirements.
New Jersey State legislation:
Freedom of Reproductive Health Act (Jan. 2022): https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bill-search/2020/S49 : codifies constitutional right to freedom of reproductive choice.
A.B. 3974 (July 2022): Prohibits the extradition of people from New Jersey to another state to be prosecuted for a crime based on abortion services or conduct related to other reproductive health care that is legal in New Jersey.
A.B. 3975 (July 2022): Bars public entities from using resources to assist interstate investigations in abortion procedures, prohibits health records between abortion providers and patients from being obtained by states with restrictive laws, and protects state-licensed medical professionals from disciplinary actions for performing an abortion on a patient coming from a state where the procedure is illegal.
o Bill A-4350: Requires insurers to cover abortions without any out-of-pocket expenses for the patients and bans New Jersey prosecutors from cooperating with interstate investigations or requests for extradition of New Jersey abortion providers or the patients
o NJ 2023 budget: Plans to provide more than $50 million for a major reproductive health package, which will increase funds for Family Planning Services, and include new programs for Family Planning Facilities Upgrades, a Reproductive Health Care Provider Clinical Training program, and the Reproductive Health Security Grant Program.
New Jersey Family Care (Medicaid), as well as many private health plans, cover abortion. Speak with your provider for more information.
Social Security & Medicare
Protecting Medicare and Social Security for seniors today and our children tomorrow is a top priority for Congressman Pascrell. Since its creation in 1965, Medicare has dramatically increased insurance coverage, improved access to care, and saved millions of lives. Similarly, Social Security has prevented many seniors from facing poverty and has preserved the dignity of life after retirement.
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees both Medicare and Social Security, Bill helped to write the historic health reform bill to lower costs under Medicare by making certain preventative services free and by addressing the gap in prescription drug coverage, otherwise known as the donut hole. Health care reform starts by giving seniors who are in the donut hole a $250 rebate check in 2010 and closes the donut hole entirely by 2020. The bill also drastically strengthens the Medicare program by extending the life of Medicare by 12 years. Part of the savings in health care reform came from rolling back overpayments made to private health insurance plans in Medicare. With such overpayments, Medicare has become more expensive for all beneficiaries as everyone has had to chip in. Bill believes that private insurance companies should be held accountable. Considering Congress voted to bring in private companies into Medicare with the goal of saving money, these companies should be able to operate efficiently without extra payments.
Just as Medicare’s solvency was extended by health care reform, Bill believes that Members of Congress can come together to similarly extend the Social Security program with common sense solutions. Continually working for the protection of Social Security, Bill has fought against efforts to privatize the program. Privatization means that your Social Security funds that you earned over a lifetime of work would be placed in the private market and subject to its volatility. In 2005, President Bush and many Republicans in Congress proposed to privatize Social Security. Considering many seniors lost part of their retirement savings when the market fell, had Social Security been privatized, these seniors would have faced poverty. Luckily, due to the united opposition to privatization in 2005, no one lost a penny in Social Security benefits.
Regarding long term care, Bill has recognized the changing needs of seniors over the years and supports new ways to provide the best for our elders. For the majority of seniors who choose not to live in an institutional setting, Bill has been a strong proponent of community-based care through Medicaid so that states can provide a range of services from coordinated health care to social and housing services in order to promote independence and healthy aging in place. Also, an important part of maintaining independence is mobility. After serving on the House Transportation Committee for ten years, Congressman Pascrell is a strong supporter of increasing transportation access and opportunities for seniors.
Bill understands that for seniors, these are difficult economic times. To help seniors during the recession, Bill worked with his colleagues to pass the Recovery Act. This legislation gave a $250 payment directly to seniors in 2009, added $100 million to senior meals programs, and invested $120 million in community service jobs for seniors. As a senior himself, Bill understands the varying needs of senior citizens in Passaic and Essex County. Bill has a strong record on voting for seniors issues and is committed to protecting their interests. Most recently, in joining a new Seniors Task Force in the Congress, Bill hopes to push for legislation to make sure seniors receive a cost-of-living adjustment increase for 2011.
Transportation & Infrastructure
As the most densely populated state in the union, New Jersey suffers from massive congestion problems. From 1997 to 2006, Bill served on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he worked every day to modernize North Jersey’s roads, bridges, airports, and mass transit systems. Now as a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over revenues to the federal Highway and Aviation Trust Funds, Bill has not given up that fight for New Jersey’s infrastructure.
Bill has secured millions in new funding for the Ninth Congressional District to reconstruct some of North Jersey’s most dangerous intersections, including the infamous 23/46/80 interchange and upgrades at bridges along the Route 46 corridor. Bill has been a strong advocate for renovating the Northeast Corridor transportation systems, which includes updating and replacing infrastructure that is over a century old. Bill proudly supported the last major investment in our transportation systems, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to put Americans to work, while making needed improvements to our roads and bridges. ARRA provided funding for improvements to Interstate 80, enhanced interchanges on Route 46 and Interstate 280, as well as repaved of our county roads, among other vital projects.
Public transportation serves as the linchpin for surface transportation in New Jersey. A fully functioning New Jersey Transit, with funding assistance for buses and railways through the federal government, is critical to congestion relief on our roadways and efficient transportation for commuters. Key to having a modern resilient system is the Gateway Project, which includes a replacement for the Portal Bridge spanning the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny, as well as a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Bill has staunchly advocated for local public transit expansion projects, including a new Passaic-Bergen passenger rail service connecting Paterson and Hackensack and the Northern Branch of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Bill also fights for continued federal support for intercity passenger rail service in the form of Amtrak.
Bill helped deliver additional federal dollars to provide communities throughout New Jersey with a “Jitney” shuttle bus service and the funds to operate it. The Jitney provides towns and cities with an innovative mass transit alternative to shuttle commuters to and from the train station, alleviating traffic and air pollution while easing the commute for hundreds each day. Bill has also advanced smart growth and alternate transportation initiatives by funding pedestrian friendly transportation options, local downtown streetscape improvement programs, and bike paths throughout the Ninth District.
While often ignored because it’s unseen underground, Bill is also focused on making improvements to our decrepit water infrastructure. Smart water infrastructure investment can mitigate public health risks and contribute to the preservation of natural resources, such as the Passaic River, Hackensack River, the Meadowlands, and Paterson’s Great Falls. Bill supports federal aid to the state’s revolving funds, and he has authored a grant program for investment in the modernization of aging sewer infrastructure affected by wet weather events. Bill is also the author of legislation to remove the cap on private activity bonds to replace our drinking water systems.
Bill works toward ensuring a safe, secure, and efficient aviation system. He advocates strongly for the economic engine of Newark Liberty International Airport on such issues as security needs, infrastructure modernization, expanded air routes, and air traffic control technology and staffing. With oversight over maritime transportation, Bill works with his colleagues to guarantee that Port Newark and Elizabeth remain competitive. New Jersey’s economy is dependent upon the Port to move goods and provide jobs.
Of course, the government’s role in transportation is more than just moving people and goods from point to point. Bill works to implement his vision for a system balanced between the dual goals of improving our quality of life and ensuring economic development, all while retaining community atmosphere in a safe and efficient manner.
Traumatic Brain Injury
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. There are an estimated 5.3 million Americans living with long-term disabilities as a result of brain injury and millions more are suffering from the residual effects of less severe TBIs. That is why I founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001. Co-chaired by Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02), the Task Force works to increase awareness of brain injury in the United States, supports research initiatives for rehabilitation and potential cures, and strives to address the effects such injuries have on families, children, education, and the workforce.
Each year, the Task Force hosts Brain Injury Awareness Day in March. This year’s briefing theme was “Living Well with Brain Injury” and we hosted experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration for Community Living, and experts who research and work in the brain injury field every day. At the annual Brain Injury Awareness Fair, organizations from all over the country that specialize in research, rehabilitation, and services for people with brain injury and their families display exhibits that help to educate Members of Congress and staff.
The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force recently hosted a briefing in June 2019 to highlight acquired brain injury and its impact on military and civilian populations. The briefing focused on injuries that cause damage to the brain by internal factors like lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, or pressure from a tumor. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in increasing awareness and research of traumatic brain injury. Prevention has become more prevalent, diagnoses are being made earlier, and treatment is becoming better. However, we must continue to shine a light on acquired brain injury and work to overcome challenges.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included language that I supported on blast exposure. Specifically, the measure ensures blast exposure history will be recorded in medical records of servicemembers, requiring the enclosure of critical details including the date and duration of the incident. The National Academy of Medicine has concluded that servicemembers with blast exposure history are at increased risk of long-term health issues including depression, Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, seizures, and problems with social functioning. Optimizing the readiness of servicemembers and recording blast exposure data is essential so that soldiers receive proper care for any service-connected medical issues that may arise later.
Veterans & Armed Forces
Congressman Pascrell strongly believes in honoring veterans and the contributions they have given to this nation by providing them with easy access to the best possible healthcare and educational opportunities.
From his first day in Congress, Bill has fought to ensure that the federal government honors its commitments to all of those who bravely serve our nation. Bill’s vocal advocacy for the rights of our veterans and active military members to receive the finest health care in the world only grows stronger each year.
The best way to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is to ensure that their sacrifice on the ground is matched with a clear strategy for victory and with the resources to get the job done and come home safely. In addition to addressing the needs of America’s service men and women, Bill is also focusing on those of their families. He recognizes the sacrifices of their families and was proud to vote for improved troop and family housing and expanding childcare for military families as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
After years of fighting for its construction, Bill was thrilled to announce the opening of the first ever veterans’ outpatient clinic in Passaic County in a moving ceremony in August 2004. The Paterson-based clinic currently serves over 30,000 veterans in the area, providing primary care services such as preventive health screening, and lab and health education for acute and chronic medical conditions. Since the clinic’s opening, long waiting times for health care have been eliminated, and Passaic County veterans no longer have to compete with fellow vets to receive the top flight medical care that they need and deserve.
Although the clinic’s opening was a monumental victory, it was only the beginning of Bill’s work to defend veterans’ rights. Bill holds an annual veterans’ registration drive to provide health care screenings and to sign up hundreds of vets for the benefits they have earned. He consults with an advisory board of local veterans each year, allowing him to conduct one-on-one discussions about the most vital needs of veterans in Essex and Passaic Counties.
Recently, Bill fought for an increase in education benefits for our veterans who have served our country in the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. In 2008, the 21st Century GI Bill was signed into law, covering the full cost of education at any public school in the nation and many private schools for men and women who have served in the armed forces after 9/11. This gives today’s veterans the same opportunities that World War II veterans received which gave rise to our “greatest generation.”
Bill is dedicated to ensuring wounded warriors receive the highest quality treatment when they return home. Bill is a proud original cosponsor of the Heroes at Home Act of 2009 and the PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review for Heroes Act. Both of these important pieces of legislation will ensure that servicemen suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive the support they deserve. The Heroes at Home Act of 2009 (H.R. 667) establishes a program for training and certification of family caregivers of veterans and members with TBI. It also includes outreach to raise awareness of veterans and the public about the symptoms of PTSD and TBI. The PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review for Heroes Act (H.R. 1701) would create a special review board at the Department of Defense so service members can seek review of their discharge if their TBI or PTSD was not taken into consideration.
As co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Bill works to spread awareness of TBI, which has been dubbed the signature wound of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information on Bill’s work on TBI, click here.
Throughout his time in Congress, Bill has worked to increase funding for our nation’s veterans and active service members, fighting cuts in previous budgets. He was pleased that the budget for FY2011 provides a record $60.3 billion in funding for our veterans- an increase of $4.2 billion from last year. This accounts for a 20% budget increase since 2009. This increase will improve health care, fight to end the plight of homeless veterans and provide returning veterans with the world-class education they deserve. This is clearly a step in the right direction, but it’s only the start of a new commitment to our troops, present and future.
Bill Pascrell will continue to advance the cause of legislation that improves the lives of our nation’s heroes. He will fight tirelessly to pass a law requiring mandatory funding for veterans health care, and continues to fight for annual military pay raises. Every day that he is in office, Bill works to give back to our veterans and active military a tiny measure of the boundless gifts that they have given to all of us.