Congressman Pascrell has consistently been an advocate for the rights and priorities of working families. Throughout his tenure as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, this son of a long-time railroad worker has distinguished himself as a leading voice for labor and America's working families.
At the beginning of the 110th Congress, Bill was recognized for his leadership on economic and trade issues by being named to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. The Committee is the chief tax-writing committee 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 believes a strong 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 is the redistribution of wealth caused by misguided tax policies that have redirected wealth to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Bill believes strongly in tax fairness and feels that the federal government needs to use its resources to invest in critical infrastructure improvements and lessening the financial burden on middle class Americans.
Bill was a strong supporter of one the first bills passed by the 110th Congress, H.R. 2, which finally increased the minimum wage for the first time in a decade. This overdue legislation increased the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour and gave up to 13 million Americans a much deserved pay raise. Bill was also an original cosponsor of H.R.1409, the "Employee Free Choice Act", which would 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 strident opponent of threats to federal labor standards, believing that all workers are entitled to achieve economic prosperity in safe conditions. Important to this belief is the continuation of regulations backed up by a strong Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 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 we need to be very cautious in conducting our trade policy and led efforts against Congressional approval of most-favored nation trade status for China in 2000, and fast-track trade negotiating authority in 1998 and 2002. 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. Bill has worked to create a new paradigm for international trade agreements that provide real labor and environmental protections.
Bill is also the author of the "Border Tax Equity Act". This bipartisan legislation will boost ailing U.S. manufacturers throughout the nation. Domestic U.S. producers face a massive and unfair trade obstacle. Altogether, imports into the U.S. face average tariffs of 1.3% and no VAT penalty, whereas U.S. exports face average tariffs worldwide of about 40% plus VAT border adjustment penalties of 15.7%. In addition, foreign companies get a VAT rebate when they export to the U.S. averaging 15.7%. Thus, most imports to the U.S. are subsidized by foreign VAT rebates and all U.S. exports are not. The "Border Tax Equity Act" eliminates these inequities and levels the playing field for American manufacturers.
Bill's commitment to working families is consistent. He knows that support for working families means more than just voting correctly in Congress. Joining in solidarity with striking unions on dozens of occasions, Bill shows his support in all aspects of his service.
Updated July 26, 2011