Bill Pascrell

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Bill Pascrell
Bill pascrell 375.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey
Assumed office
January 3, 1997
Preceded byWilliam J. Martini
Constituency8th district (1997–2013)
9th district (2013–present)
Mayor of Paterson
In office
July 1, 1990 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byAnna Dopirak
Succeeded byMartin Barnes
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 35th district
In office
January 12, 1988 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byVincent O. Pellecchia
Succeeded byNellie Pou
Personal details
William James Pascrell Jr.

(1937-01-25) January 25, 1937 (age 83)
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Elsie Botto
(m. 1962)
EducationFordham University (BA, MA)
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1958-1967

William James Pascrell Jr.[1] /ˌpæsˈkrɛl/ (born January 25, 1937) is an American politician who is the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 9th congressional district. He represented New Jersey's 8th congressional district from January 1997 until the redistricting of January 2013, and is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes Pascrell's hometown of Paterson as well as parts of Passaic, Bergen and Hudson Counties.

Early life, education, and academic career[edit]

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Pascrell was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Roffie J. (née Loffredo) and William James Pascrell (originally Pascrelli). [2] He attended St. George's Elementary School, and in 1955, graduated from St. John the Baptist High School, where he was elected student council president. He served in the United States Army and United States Army reserves. Pascrell went on to attend Fordham University in New York City and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in philosophy.

Pascrell spent 12 years as a high school teacher in Paramus, New Jersey, during which he taught several courses including psychology, before being hired as a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Pascrell was appointed to the Paterson Board of Education, where he served as president of the Board. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Passaic County Community College.

Early political career[edit]

State Assembly[edit]

Pascrell was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1987, eventually rising to the position of Minority Leader Pro Tempore.[3] He won his seat in 1987 with 34% of the vote.[4] He won re-election in 1989 (36%),[5] 1991 (29%),[6] 1993 (31%),[7] and 1995 (33%).[8] He served alongside John Girgenti for his first two terms and Alfred E. Steele for the remaining four.

Mayor of Paterson[edit]

In May 1990, Pascrell was one of four candidates in Paterson's mayoral election with the winner to take the office that was left vacant when Frank Graves, who was elected in 1982 and 1986 and was considering a third run, suddenly died two months earlier.[9] and was re-elected in 1994 with 46% of the vote against his eventual successor Martin Barnes, a Republican from the Third Ward, and former Mayor Thomas C. Rooney Jr., a Democrat from the Sixth Ward.[10]

Pascrell served as mayor of Paterson while he also served as an assemblyman.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


In 1996, Pascrell ran for New Jersey's 8th congressional district and defeated Republican incumbent Bill Martini 51%-48%, a margin of 6,249 votes. Pascrell was likely helped by Bill Clinton's easy victory in New Jersey in that year's presidential election.[11] He has never faced another contest nearly that close; since then, he has been reelected with at least 62 percent of the vote.


After redistricting, Pascrell's home was placed in the newly redrawn 9th district. Fellow Democratic congressman Steve Rothman decided to move into the reconfigured 9th and challenge Pascrell in the primary. Rothman's home in Fair Lawn had been drawn into a Republican-leaning district against Republican Scott Garrett.[12] Geographically, the new district was more Rothman's district than Pascrell's. Rothman had represented 53% of the new 9th, while Pascrell had represented 43% of the new 9th.[13]

Despite this, Pascrell defeated Rothman in the Democratic primary on June 5, 31,435 to 19,947, capturing approximately 61.1% of the vote.[14] In the general election, he defeated Rabbi Shmuley Boteach by 73.6% to 25.4%.[15]

2012 election controversy[edit]

Rothman's candidacy in the 2012 primary race reportedly devolved into a highly competitive proxy war over Israel. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, published a column in The Star-Ledger titled, "Rothman is Israel's Man in District 9" in which he wrote:

As total and blind support becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America's [flag].[16]

Arabic-language campaign posters produced by Pascrell supporters reportedly encouraged the "Arab diaspora community" to elect Pascrell, "the friend of the Arabs." The poster touted the race as "the most important election in the history of the [Arab American] community."[16][17][18]

Susan Rosenbluth, publisher of the New Jersey–based Jewish Voice and Opinion wrote that "a number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman," and commented that "I haven't heard a dual loyalty charge for years." She also sharply criticized Pascrell for remaining silent and refusing to condemn the charges of dual loyalty.[18][19][20]


On October 10, 2002, Pascrell was among the 81 Democratic House members who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[21]

Pascrell was one of the original members of the Homeland Security Committee, eventually rising to the post of ranking member on the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee. He has a particular interest in fire safety, and authored the bill that created the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which gives federal grants directly to all fire departments, including volunteer fire departments, which he calls "the forgotten part of the public safety equation".

He was also a member of the House Transportation Committee, where he worked to modernize roads, bridges, airports and mass transit systems. He has secured funding for reconstructing various dangerous roads and bridges throughout New Jersey, including bringing attention to the Route 46 corridor. In addition, he has helped craft legislation to renew federal surface transportation programs, providing funding toward New Jersey Transit. The new legislation regarded projects of rail expansion between Passaic and Bergen counties, bridge construction throughout Route 46, and the establishment of a bike-pedestrian path in South Orange.

Pascrell is an Italian American and has been outspoken about the representation of Italian Americans in the media regarding what he sees as negative stereotypes in shows such as HBO's The Sopranos. His Italian heritage was questioned by comedian Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, who alleged in an interview that Pascrell could not truly be of Italian descent because Italian surnames must end with a vowel. Pressed by Colbert for an example of an Italian surname ending in a consonant, Pascrell responded with "Sole".[22]

During Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, Pascrell asked for investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice into the practices of Ticketmaster and TicketsNow in regard to sales of tickets to the tour's New Jersey shows.[23] Pascrell subsequently introduced proposed federal legislation, titled the "BOSS ACT" (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), which would require primary ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets were being held back from sale, prohibit ticket brokers from buying tickets during the first 48 hours on sale, and prohibit primary ticket sellers, promoters, and artists from entering the secondary market.[24] In 2012, problems again arose during the first ticket sales for Springsteen's 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour. Ticketmaster said web traffic was 2.5 times its highest level for the year. Shows were selling out within minutes and many tickets at much higher prices appeared on resale websites such as StubHub less than an hour after the onsale time. Pascrell again responded saying he would reintroduce the BOSS ACT bill to Congress.[25][26]

After the death of a young boy in his district who returned to playing football without having fully recovered from a concussion sustained earlier in the season in October 2008, Pascrell introduced the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act (the ConTACT Act), which has received the endorsements of the National Football League, the National Football League Players Association, and the Brain Injury Association of America. The legislation brings together a conference of experts to produce a consensus set of guidelines for the treatment and care of concussions for middle and high school students. It also provides funding for schools' adoption of baseline and post-injury neuropsychological testing technologies.[27]

In January 2011, Congressman Pascrell responded to the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by stating, "[t]here's an aura of hate and elected politicians feed it, certain people on Fox News feed it."[28]

On March 12, 2013, Pascrell introduced the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 1098; 113th Congress), a bill that would reauthorize appropriations for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects to reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury and projects related to track and monitor traumatic brain injuries.[29] He is the Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, which was founded in 2001 and now includes more than a hundred members of Congress.[30]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Party leadership
  • Steering and Policy Committee, Region IX representative (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.)

Electoral history[edit]

New Jersey's 8th congressional district and New Jersey's 9th congressional district: Results 1996–2018[36][37]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Bill Pascrell, Jr. 98,861 51% William J. Martini 92,609 48% Jeffrey M. Levine Independent 1,621 1%
1998 81,068 62% Matthew J. Kirnan 46,289 35% 804 *
2000 134,074 67% Anthony Fusco, Jr. 60,606 30% Joseph A. Fortunato 4,469 2% *
2002 88,101 Jared Silverman 40,318 31% Joseph A. Fortunato Green 3,400 3%
2004 152,001 69% George Ajjan 62,747 29% 4,072 2%
2006 97,568 71% Jose M. Sandoval 39,053 28% Lou Jasikoff Libertarian 1,018 1%
2008 155,111 72% Roland Straten 62,239 27% Derek DeMarco 1,487
2010 88,478 63% 51,023 36% Raymond Giangrosso Independent 1,707 1%
2012 162,822 73% Shmuley Boteach 55,091 25% E. David Smith 1,138 0.52%
2014 82,498 68% Dierdre G. Paul 36,246 30% Nestor Montilla 1,715 1%
2016 162,642 69% Hector L. Castillo 65,376 28% Diego Rivera Libertarian 3,327 1%
2018 140,832 70% Eric P. Fisher 57,854 29% Claudio Belusic 1,730

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1998, Stephen Spinosa received 762 votes; Bernard George received 722 votes; Thomas Paine Caslander received 625 votes; and José L. Aravena received 318 votes. In 2000, Viji Sargis received 983 votes.


  1. ^ "Representative William James Pascrell (Bill) (D-New Jersey, 9th)". LegiStorm. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  2. ^ "Pascrell". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  3. ^ Full Biography, Bill Pascrell. Accessed November 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "NJ General Assembly 35 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 3, 1987. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  5. ^ "NJ General Assembly 35 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 7, 1989. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  6. ^ "NJ General Assembly 35 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 5, 1991. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  7. ^ "NJ General Assembly 35 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 2, 1993. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  8. ^ "NJ General Assembly 35 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 7, 1995. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  9. ^ "Paterson, NJ Mayor Race". Our Campaigns. May 8, 1990. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  10. ^ "Paterson, NJ Mayor Race". Our Campaigns. May 10, 1994. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  11. ^ "NJ District 8 Race". Our Campaigns. Nov 5, 1996. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  12. ^ "U.S. Rep Steve Rothman's challenge to Bill Pascrell is bad for N.J., U.S." The Star-Ledger. December 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  13. ^ "Rothman to challenge Pascrell in 9th District Democratic battle". Daily Record. 2011-12-28. Archived from the original on 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  14. ^ "Candidates for House of Representatives For PRIMARY ELECTION 06/05/2012" (PDF). Official election results. NJ Secretary of State. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  15. ^ 2012 House Races, Politico. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  16. ^ a b Assaf, Aref. Rothman is Israel's man in District 9, The Star-Ledger, February 19, 2012.
  17. ^ Glick, Caroline B. Defeating the Jewish Alinskyites, The Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Kredo, Adam. Jersey Roar - Democratic House primary turns into ethnic proxy war over Israel, Washington Free Beacon, June 1, 2012.
  19. ^ Goodman, Alana. Pascrell Stays Silent on Dual-Loyalty Slur, Commentary Magazine, February 24, 2012.
  20. ^ Silberman, Zach. UPDATE: Pascrell backer: Rothman is a 'patriot,' but campaign won't condemn Assaf Archived May 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Washington Jewish Week, February 23, 2012.
  21. ^ "107th Congress-2nd Session 455th Roll Call Vote of by members of the House of Representatives". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  22. ^ "Laugh, and the Voters Will Laugh With You, or at Least at You", The New York Times, February 26, 2006
  23. ^ "Springsteen ticket glitch has pol calling for federal probe". Newsday. Associated Press. 2009-02-03. Archived from the original on 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  24. ^ McGlone, Peggy (2009-06-01). "The BOSS ACT rewrites rules on ticket sales". The Star-Ledger. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  25. ^ Fixmer, Andy (January 27, 2012). "Ticketmaster Says Scalpers System as Springsteen Goes on Sale". Businessweek. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  26. ^ Feldman, Emily (January 28, 2012). "N.J. Rep. Calls for Gov't Oversight Following Springsteen Ticket Glitch". NBC New York. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  27. ^ "Congressman Pascrell Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Head Injuries Related to Participation in Sports". Congressman Bill Pascrell. October 28, 2009. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011.
  28. ^ Jackson, Herb (January 9, 2011). "NJ lawmakers shocked by shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, others at public event". The Record.
  29. ^ "H.R. 1098 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  30. ^ "Pascrell TBI Reauthorization Headed to President's Desk". 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2014-11-14.
  31. ^ "Committee Members". House Ways and Means Committee. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  32. ^ "Subcommittee on Trade". House Ways and Means Committee. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Members". House Baltic Caucus. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  34. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  36. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  37. ^ "Candidate Returns for House of Representatives for November 2010 General Election" (PDF). November 29, 2010. Retrieved 2012-06-09.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Martini
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Albio Sires
Preceded by
Steve Rothman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jim McGovern
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Brad Sherman