Bill Pascrell, Jr.
D-New Jersey, Army
Bio: A native son of Paterson, N.J., Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City. He 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 the community he loves to make a better society. Bill’s tenacity and dedication as a U.S. Congressman are marked by service to his constituents and his rise in leadership on issues critical to all Americans. He continues to fulfill his promises and works to improve the lives of the people.
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 serving his ninth term. Since 2007, Bill has served on the exclusive House Ways and Means Committee, the first committee established in the U.S. Congress, overseeing numerous economic issues including Social Security, taxes, Medicare, international trade and health policy. In 2011, Bill was appointed by his colleagues to the additional assignment of serving on the pivotal House Budget Committee, the congressional body responsible for the national budget process. In his roles on both House Committees, Bill has been a champion for the middle class by supporting policies that help facilitate job creation, distribute the tax burden equitably and make quality health care affordable for all Americans.
Earlier in his congressional tenure, Bill served on the House Committee on Small Business, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was an original member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
From his first days in Congress, Bill has enthusiastically championed the designation of Paterson’s Great Falls as unit of the National Park System. He took the lead in drafting, introducing and shepherding through Congress the “Great Falls Historic District Study Act,” until it was signed into law in November 2001. This was the first step toward the day in April 2009 when President Barack Obama joined Bill in recognizing the historic value and natural beauty of the Great Falls and signed legislation designating the Falls and the 30-acre surrounding area as the future site of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. When completed, the new national park will include refurbished beautiful, historic mill buildings and better maintenance and protection for the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi.
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. He continues to fight for TRICARE insurance coverage to pay for cognitive rehabilitation therapy – the most effective treatment for soldiers recovering from TBI.
After the tragic death of Montclair High School football player Ryne Dougherty in 2008, Bill’s efforts against the dangers of TBI have expanded to help protect young athletes. On Sept. 30, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Bill’s Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act. The legislation calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop guidelines and protocols for the management and treatment of sports-related concussions for the benefit of the nation’s student-athletes.
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, which became law in 2001. The law established the only federal program that delivers grant dollars directly to fire departments. The program, now titled the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, is administered by the Department of Homeland Security. Now, the nation’s 32,000 career, volunteer and combination fire departments can apply for 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 conceived of the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant program which provides federal support for staffing of local fire departments.
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 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 serves the more than 30,000 veterans that reside in the area. Specifically, the clinic is 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.
Bill also serves as co-chairman 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.
As a child, 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. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., Bill worked as both a high school history teacher and an adjunct professor. He also served as president of the Paterson Board of Education and as a member of Passaic County Community College’s Board of Trustees.
Bill’s political life began in 1987 when he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where he eventually became 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.
Through the years, Bill has been widely recognized for his service and leadership by organizations including the N.J. 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, the Brain Injury Association of America and Ceasefire New Jersey. He has also received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from William Paterson University (1999) and Bloomfield College (2010).
Bill is married to the former Elsie Marie Botto and they have three children, William III, Glenn Martin, and David Joseph. They are also the proud grandparents of William IV, Christopher and Megan Margaret.
Military Bio: Bill served his country in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve and received an honorable discharge in 1967.
Legislation: 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.