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José E. Serrano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

José E. Serrano
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 21, 1990 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byRobert Garcia
Succeeded byRitchie Torres
Constituency18th district (1990–1993)
16th district (1993–2013)
15th district (2013–2021)
Member of the New York Assembly
In office
January 1, 1975 – March 21, 1990
Preceded byEugenio Alvarez
Succeeded byDavid Rosado
Constituency75th district (1975–1982)
73rd district (1983–1990)
Personal details
José Enrique Serrano

(1943-10-24) October 24, 1943 (age 77)
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Political partyDemocratic
Children5, including José
EducationLehman College
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1964–1966
Unit172nd Support Battalion[1]

José Enrique Serrano (born October 24, 1943) is an American politician who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1990 until his retirement in 2021. Serrano, a Democrat from New York, represented a district that is one of the smallest in the country geographically, consisting of a few square miles of the heavily populated South Bronx in New York City. His district was also one of the most densely populated and one of the few majority Hispanic districts in the country. The district was numbered the 18th from 1990 to 1993 and the 16th from 1993 to 2013, and the 15th district from 2013 to 2021. He was the longest-serving Hispanic-American in the House.[2] He did not run for re-election in 2020 due to a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and Ritchie Torres was elected to succeed him.[3]

Early life, education, and military service

Serrano was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. At the age of seven, Serrano was taken by his family to The Bronx, where he was raised in the Millbrook Houses. Serrano went to Grace Dodge Vocational High School in the Bronx and briefly attended Lehman College in 1961. He served in the United States Army Medical Corps from 1964 to 1966. Serrano was employed by Manufacturers Hanover Bank from 1961 to 1969, except for his military service, and served on New York City's District 7 School Board from 1969 to 1974. He was also chairman of the South Bronx Community Corporation and a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

New York Assembly

He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1990, sitting in the 181st, 182nd, 183rd, 184th, 185th, 186th, 187th and 188th New York State Legislatures. His district was numbered the 75th until 1982, and the 73rd from 1983 on. He was Chairman of the Committee on Consumer Affairs (1979-1983), and the Committee on Education (1983-1990).

U.S. House of Representatives


In 1990, Serrano won a special election for the seat vacated by resigning U.S. Congressman Robert García with 92% of the vote.[4] He has never won re-election with less than 92% of the vote,[5][6] in what is considered one of the safest seats in Congress.

In 2004, Congressman Serrano faced an electoral challenge from Jose Serrano, an unemployed former loading dockworker with the same name who eventually dropped out of the race in July.[7]


A member of the Progressive Caucus, he was widely regarded as one of the most progressive members of Congress. He had been questioned about his pork barrel spending by some fiscal conservative members of Congress. Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake once said of Serrano's $150,000 earmark to repair the roof at the city-owned Arthur Avenue Market (a historic indoor produce and prepared food market in the Bronx's "Little Italy"), "I would argue this is one cannoli the taxpayer doesn't want to take a bite of."[8] Serrano replied to Flake, "The more you get up on these, sir, the more I realize that you do not know what you are talking about. I make no excuses about the fact that I earmark dollars to go in the poorest congressional district in the nation, which is situated in the richest city on earth."[8]

On November 18, 2005, he was one of three votes in favor of immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The other two votes were from Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and Robert Wexler of Florida.[9]

In 1997 [HJR 19],[10] 1999 [HJR 17],[11] 2001 [HJR 4],[12] 2003 [HJR 11],[13] 2005 [HJR 9],[14] 2007 [HJR 8],[15] 2009 [HJR 5],[16] 2011 [HJR 17],[17] and 2013 [HJR 15],[18] Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may be elected to as president. Each resolution died without ever getting past the committee.[19][20]

Serrano has paid attention to local environmental issues in New York, with a particular focus on constructing greenways, acquiring parklands, and cleaning up the Bronx River, which runs through his district. Recently a beaver was discovered swimming in the river for the first time in 200 years, something seen as a testament to his efforts.[21] In 2007, he engineered the purchase of the last privately owned island in New York harbor—South Brother Island—for preservation in perpetuity by the City of New York as a wildlife refuge for rare shorebirds.

Serrano is one of three New York-area congressmen on the House Appropriations Committee, the others being Nita Lowey of the 18th district and Grace Meng of the 6th district. He is currently the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services, having previously served as the chair. As chairman, he successfully engineered the inclusion of language in the 2007 omnibus spending bill that guarantees the extension of the 50 State Quarters program to include the minting of 6 additional quarters to honor the District of Columbia and the 5 United States territories, including Serrano's native Puerto Rico.

Serrano has also been an advocate for Puerto Ricans under FBI prosecution. In May 2000, he brokered an agreement with then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, then Puerto Rican Independence Party Electoral Commissioner Manuel Rodríguez Orellana and then Puerto Rico Senate Federal Affairs Committee chairman (and future Puerto Rico Senate President and Secretary of State) Kenneth McClintock, that has resulted in the release of nearly 100,000 pages of previously secret FBI files on Puerto Rican political activists.

Serrano was a critic of the Bush administration's approach to handling President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. In 2005, while the Venezuelan President was in New York City speaking before the United Nations, the congressman invited him to his district to speak to his constituency.[22] After Chávez' death, Serrano published condolences via Twitter describing him as a leader who "understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President."[23] His statements prompted a response from the Republican National Committee that described Serrano's tweet as "simply insulting that a Democrat Congressman would praise the authoritarian ruler Hugo Chávez."[24]

Serrano has been critical of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro. In March 2019 he and 29 other Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that read in part, "Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, we have been particularly alarmed by the threat Bolsonaro’s agenda poses to the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil."[25][26]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Party leadership

  • Senior Whip

Personal life

Serrano's son, José M. Serrano, is a member of the New York State Senate. In addition to José Marco, Serrano has four other children.

In March 2019, Serrano announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and would not seek re-election in 2020.[32]

See also


  1. ^ Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Hispanic Americans". House Press Gallery. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  3. ^ Brown, Nicole (July 16, 2019). "With Rep. José Serrano retiring, candidates vie for South Bronx congressional seat". AM New York. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY District 18 Special Race - Mar 20, 1990". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  5. ^ "Political Profile of Jose Serrano, Government & Politics -". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  6. ^ "Bronx General Election Results". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  7. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. "Seeing Double on Ballot: Similar Names Sow Confusion". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  8. ^ a b CBS 60 Minutes, Rep. Flake On Cutting Congressional Pork. Consulted on June 27, 2007.
  9. ^ Rep. Jose Serrano: One of Three Congress members to Vote for Immediate U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Iraq Archived 2005-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "H.J.Res. 19 (105th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  11. ^ "H.J.Res. 17 (106th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  12. ^ "H.J.Res. 4 (107th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  13. ^ "H.J.Res. 11 (108th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  14. ^ "H.J.Res. 9 (109th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  15. ^ "H.J.Res. 8 (110th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  16. ^ "H.J.Res. 5 (111th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  17. ^ "H.J.Res. 17 (112th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  18. ^ "H.J.Res. 15 (113th): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, ..."
  19. ^ "H. J. Res. 5: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second..." 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  20. ^ 112th Congress (2011–2012): H.J. Res. 17
  21. ^ After 200 Years, a Beaver Is Back in New York City
  22. ^ |url= Insider |date=March 5, 2013}}
  23. ^ "World leaders pay tribute to Hugo Chavez as wave of grief washes over Latin America". 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  24. ^ LoGiurato, Brett (2013-03-05). "DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Hugo Chavez Was 'Committed To Empowering The Powerless'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  25. ^ "Brazil's far-right president tweeted out a pornographic video to condemn Carnival". Vox. March 6, 2019.
  26. ^ "Reps. Susan Wild and Ro Khanna Urge Sec. of State Pompeo to Condemn Human Rights Abuses in Brazil".
  27. ^ "Members". Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Archived from the original on 15 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  29. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 20 January 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  32. ^ Greenwood, Max (March 25, 2019). "José Serrano says he has Parkinson's, will not seek reelection". The Hill. Retrieved March 25, 2019.

External links

New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Eugenio Alvarez
Member of the New York Assembly
from the 75th district

Succeeded by
John C. Dearie
Preceded by
John Brian Murtaugh
Member of the New York Assembly
from the 73rd district

Succeeded by
David Rosado
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert García
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Nita Lowey
Preceded by
Charles Rangel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 16th congressional district

Succeeded by
Eliot Engel
Preceded by
Solomon P. Ortiz
Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Succeeded by
Ed Pastor
Preceded by
Charles Rangel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ritchie Torres
This page was last edited on 22 April 2021, at 13:52
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