Lou Barletta

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Lou Barletta
Lou Barletta.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byPaul Kanjorski
Succeeded byDan Meuser (Redistricting)
Mayor of Hazleton
In office
January 3, 2000 – December 14, 2010
Preceded byMike Marsicano
Succeeded byJoseph Yannuzzi
Personal details
Louis John Barletta

(1956-01-28) January 28, 1956 (age 64)
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Malloy
Children4 daughters
EducationLuzerne County Community College
Bloomsburg University

Louis John Barletta (born January 28, 1956) is an American politician and businessman who served as the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district from 2011 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as Mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania from 1999 to 2010. As mayor, he came to prominence due to a high-profile anti-immigration ordinance that spurred legal challenges and was later found unconstitutional.[1] The legal fees related to defending the ordinance contributed to making the city financially distressed, and it no longer enforces the ordinance.[1]

Barletta was the Republican nominee in the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Pennsylvania, losing to incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. by a 13-point margin.

Early life, education, and business career[edit]

Barletta was born January 28, 1956, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the son of Angeline (née Agosti) and Rocco Barletta, both of Italian ancestry.[2] After graduating from high school, he attended Luzerne County Community College and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. After an unsuccessful tryout for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team,[3] Barletta went to work for his family's construction and heating oil business.

In 1984, Barletta founded a pavement marking company, Interstate Road Marking Corporation, which he sold in 2000. At the time of the sale, his firm had grown to become the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania.

Mayor of Hazleton[edit]

He was defeated for a seat on the Hazleton City Council in 1996, but won two years later. In 1999, he defeated Jack Mundie for mayor, taking 66% of the vote[4] and overcoming a Democratic registration edge in the city.[5] He took office on January 3, 2000.[6]

Barletta was reelected as mayor in 2003 and 2007. In 2007, Barletta was nominated in both the Republican and Democratic primary elections. Barletta defeated the Democratic candidate, former Mayor Michael Marsicano, on the Democratic ballot as a write-in.[7]

Immigration ordinance, lawsuit and financial distress[edit]

In 2006, Barletta made headlines for his efforts opposing illegal immigration in Hazleton vowing to make the city "one of the toughest places in the United States" for illegal immigrants.[8] Barletta introduced and the city council approved the Illegal Immigration Relief Act.[9] The ordinance allowed the city to deny a business permit to employers who hired illegal immigrants and gave the city authority to fine landlords up to $1,000 for leasing to illegal immigrants.[8][10] The act also made English the official language of Hazleton, prohibiting city employees from translating documents into any language without official authorization.[11] In response, the ACLU and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund sued in Federal District Court to block the ordinance.[11]

In July 2007, District Court Judge James M. Munley ruled that the act was unconstitutional for interfering with Federal immigration laws and violating the due process of individuals, employers and landlords.[8] The ruling was upheld on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals on September 9, 2010.[12] In a public statement shortly after the decision, Barletta vowed to appeal.[13] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[1] In 2014, the town of Hazleton was ordered to reimburse the ACLU $1.4 million in legal fees (which was more than one tenth of the annual revenue of the town for 2017), and the town, which was already in debt to the tune of $6 million, had to take additional loans to pay the fees.[1] In 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development declared that the town of Hazleton was financially distressed.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 2002, Barletta ran as the Republican candidate in the 11th District against nine-term Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski. The 11th had long been considered the most Democratic district in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. However, Barletta was viewed as a very strong candidate—the first credible Republican challenger Kanjorski had faced since his 1986 reelection bid—since he was a very popular Republican mayor from a heavily Democratic city. Barletta lost, taking 42.4% of the vote. The race might have been much closer had the state legislature not decided to move heavily Democratic Scranton, previously the heart of the 10th District, to the 11th. Barletta lost the district's share of Lackawanna County, home to Scranton, by 32 points; he only trailed in the old 11th by 9,000 votes.[14]


Barletta faced Kanjorski again in 2008.[15] Lou Barletta denounced the endorsement of David Duke in this race.[16] Multiple polls had shown Barletta leading Kanjorski by as many as 5 percentage points,[17] and the race has been pegged as one of the nation's most competitive leading into the November elections. That race was one of very few nationwide where a Republican challenger had a credible chance at unseating a Democratic incumbent. Barletta lost to Kanjorski 48%-52%,[18] largely due to losing Lackawanna County by 12,800 votes. Barletta won the territory that had been in the district prior to the 2000s round of redistricting by almost 4,000 votes.[19]


Barletta announced on December 9, 2009, that he would once again run for Congress in 2010. He won his party's nomination on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. Barletta won the General Election on November 2, 2010 against Kanjorski by a 55%-45% margin. City Council President Joe Yannuzzi succeeded Barletta as Mayor of Hazleton on December 15, 2010.[20]


Before the 2012 election, it was widely expected that the state legislature would gerrymander Barletta's district to make it safer for him. In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama carried Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district with 57% of the vote.[21] The new map, as expected, significantly altered the 11th. Heavily Democratic Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were shifted to the 17th District. To make up for the loss of population, the 11th absorbed some heavily Republican territory to the north and south that had previously been in the neighbouring 5th, 10th, 17th and 19th districts, pushing it as far south as the suburbs of Harrisburg. The new district is approximately ten points more Republican than its predecessor. Had it existed in 2008, President Obama would have only won 47 percent of the vote here to John McCain's 51 percent.[22] It appeared that the legislature wanted to protect Barletta by packing as many of northeast Pennsylvania's Democratic voters into the 17th as possible.

Barletta won reelection with 58 percent of the vote.[23]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

2018 Senate race[edit]

On July 31, 2017, the Associated Press reported that Barletta was preparing to run for the U.S. Senate, seeking the GOP nomination to challenge incumbent Bob Casey for his seat in the 2018 midterm elections. He officially announced on August 29.[25][26] He later secured the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost to Casey, the incumbent Democrat in the general election on November 6, 2018.[27]

Political positions[edit]

According to Vox, Barletta is "considered to be generally more moderate than other House Republicans, though he almost always toes the party line on major votes."[28]


Barletta voted for Micah's law,[28] which prohibits abortion of fetuses starting with the twentieth week of pregnancy, when anti-abortion advocates contend that fetuses can be born prematurely with medical assistance and feel pain,[29] with exceptions for victims of rape and incest who have undergone counseling and for cases of danger to the life of the mother.[30]

Donald Trump[edit]

Barletta had been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.[31] Barletta endorsed Trump for president in March 2016.[32] According to NBC News, "Barletta is a favorite of Trump. ... Trump asked Barletta to run for Senate."[31] Barletta was reportedly considered for a position in the Trump administration.[28] In his 2018 Senate campaign, Barletta pledged to "give President Trump the help he needs".[28]

Economy and budget[edit]

On April 15, 2011, Barletta voted with the Republican majority for Paul Ryan's budget. Barletta has characterized a balanced budget amendment as a gimmick and said he will not vote to raise the debt ceiling.[33]

In 2017, Barletta voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Republican Party's tax reform legislation.[28] In supporting the legislation, Barletta tweeted, "Our #TaxReform package doubles standard deduction, brings $$$ back home, and reduces rates for ALL taxpayers. We will #MAGA."[34] According to PolitiFact, Barletta's claim is "mostly false", as the tax plan in 2018 cuts taxes for approximately 75% of Americans, while increasing them on 7%; by 2027, the tax plan will raise taxes for more than 25% of Americans.[34]


Barletta opposed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and voted to repeal it.[35][28] Barletta had threatened not to support Obamacare repeal because he wanted the repeal legislation to prohibit undocumented immigrants from applying for health insurance tax credits.[36] After meeting with President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, Barletta said that they had promised to bring up separate legislation to prohibit undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance tax credits.[37] In 2018, Barletta said that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would not have weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions; experts said that the repeal would have given states the option to seek waivers whereby insurers would be allowed to raise prices for individuals with preexisting conditions who did not have continuous coverage.[35]

In 2014, Barletta introduced a bill to repeal a provision in the Affordable Care Act which required that volunteer emergency responders be offered health care by the organization they volunteer with.[38] Barletta argued that the bill was necessary because it would be prohibitively expensive for some of organizations to provide insurance.[38]


Barletta supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order imposing a ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying: "I commend President Trump for suspending the refugee program, and in particular for Syria and the six other countries, because they are unquestionably terrorist havens and hotspots."[39] In 2007, Barletta opposed comprehensive immigration reform.[40]

In January 2018, CNN reported that Barletta had been associated with a number of fringe anti-immigration groups and organizations.[40] In 2006, he gave an interview to American Free Press, an outlet that said that 9/11 was a "Jewish plot" and denies the Holocaust.[40] In 2007, Barletta appeared with American Free Press' "roving editor" Mark Anderson, a Bilderberg conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier, at a Hazleton rally in support of Anderson.[40] At the rally, Barletta said that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 that the Bush administration was pursuing, would reward some immigrants who are "murders, rapists, thieves, and terrorists" with legal status.[40] In 2007, Barletta gave an interview to Americans for Immigration Control, which believes the "annual tidal wave of over a million immigrants (legal and illegal) is endangering our American way of life."[40] In 2011, Barletta spoke at an event hosted by the anti-Muslim journal The Social Contract, whose editor is a white nationalist.[40] In 2011, he appeared at an event hosted by the ultra-conservative student group Youth for Western Civilization, which opposes "radical multiculturalism, political correctness, racial preferences, mass immigration, and socialism."[40]

When asked whether Barletta had known of the views of the people and groups mentioned in the CNN story at the time he associated with them, Barletta spokesperson Jon Anzur responded that Barletta had "always condemned 'hate, bigotry, and racial supremacy in all its forms.'" Anzur added, "'Of course Lou was not aware of these individuals’ background[s]….As the mayor of a small city, Lou didn't have the resources or staff to screen everyone who asked him questions… Lou did 27 interviews [one day], from World News Tonight to Tucker Carlson. Lou had one assistant, not a team of consultants…'"[40] Anzur also noted that Barletta had condemned a New Jersey Ku Klux Klan organization that wanted to demonstrate in Hazleton in 2007, and that Barletta had renounced a 2008 endorsement he had received from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 2008.[40]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kris Kobach's Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats — ProPublica". ProPublica. Jessica Huseman,Blake Paterson,Bryan Lowry,Hunter Woodall. 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2018-08-01.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Palmer, Anna (November 3, 2010). "112th Congress: Lou Barletta, R-Pa. (11th District)". Congressional Quarterly.
  3. ^ Vanessa Gezari (2006-07-02). "Hazelton mayor says enough, already!". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  4. ^ Andrew Tutino (1999-11-03). "Barletta Elected Hazelton Mayor". Wilkes Barre Times Leader.
  5. ^ Bill O'Boyle (2007-11-11). "Beyond the city limits". Wilkes Barre Times Leader.
  6. ^ "Councilmen Skeptical of Candidates". 2000-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  7. ^ Michael Rubincam (2007-05-15). "Mayor Who Targeted Illegals Wins _ Twice". Associated Press, Printed in the San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  8. ^ a b c Julia Preston (2007-07-27). "Judge Voids Ordinance on Illegal Immigrants". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  9. ^ Mali, Meghashyam (2011-06-20). "Barletta makes pitch on immigration". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  10. ^ Dwayne Parker (2008-10-30). "Hazleton Immigration Laws Head to Court". 69 News. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  11. ^ a b Michael Powell and Michelle García (2006-08-22). "Pa. City Puts Illegal Immigrants on Notice". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  12. ^ Court Rejects a City’s Efforts to Restrict Immigrants, Julia Preston, The New York Times, September 9, 2010
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-06-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "2008 Pennsylvania General Election Results". Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections, Commissions and Licensure. Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  15. ^ "Citizens' Voice". www.citizensvoice.com. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  16. ^ O'Boyle, Bill (2008-02-27). "Barletta refuses KKK nod". Times Leader. Times Leader. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  17. ^ "Election 2008 - Latest Polls". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  18. ^ "Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information". Electionreturns.state.pa.us. 2008-11-04. Archived from the original on 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  19. ^ "Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information". Electionreturns.state.pa.us. 2008-11-04. Archived from the original on 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  20. ^ Zito, Salena (2010-03-28). "Rust Belt battlegrounds - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Presidential Results by Congressional District, 2000-2008 – Swing State Project". swingstateproject.com. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  22. ^ Presidential results by congressional district at Daily Kos
  23. ^ "U.S. House: Pennsylvania District 11 (Barletta vs Stilp)". CNN. December 10, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  24. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  25. ^ "AP source: Barletta to seek US Senate seat held by Bob Casey". AP News. 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  26. ^ "Barletta Announces His Candidacy for Senate". August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  27. ^ "2018 Pennsylvania Election Results". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  28. ^ a b c d e f "Lou Barletta wins Republican nomination in the 2018 Pennsylvania Senate race". Vox. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  29. ^ Pass abortion bill — science and basic human decency say these babies are worth saving (The Hill)
  30. ^ H.R.36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (United States Congress)
  31. ^ a b "Trump backer wins GOP nod to take on Sen. Casey in Pennsylvania". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  32. ^ Collins, Eliza (March 22, 2016). "Rep. Lou Barletta endorses Trump, hopes others will too". Politico. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  33. ^ Tom Ragan (22 April 2011). "Barletta discusses stance on budget matters". The Standard Speaker. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  34. ^ a b "PA Rep. Lou Barletta overstates benefits of the House tax bi". @politifact. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  35. ^ a b "Pre-Existing Conditions Ad Inflames Casey, Barletta Race".
  36. ^ Olson, Laura. "Lou Barletta opposes GOP Obamacare repeal bill". themorningcall.com. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  37. ^ Olson, Laura. "Lou Barletta switches to a 'yes' on Obamacare repeal bill". themorningcall.com. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  38. ^ a b Kasperowicz, Pete (10 March 2014). "GOP eyes Dem help on ObamaCare". The Hill. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  39. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Andrew Kaczynski; Chris Massie. "GOP Senate candidate Lou Barletta did interview in 2006 with Holocaust-denying publication". CNN. Retrieved 2018-05-16.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Paul Kanjorski
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Lloyd Smucker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Smith
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
(Class 1)

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