Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: Mar. 1990, 12th full term.

Born: October 24, 1943, Mayaguez, PR

Home: Bronx

Education: Lehman Col.

Professional Career: Banker, 1961–69.

Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino

Religion: Catholic

Family: divorced , 5 children

Democrat José Serrano, who won his seat in a 1990 special election, is known for his jesting about everything from Republicans to his thick mustache. But he gets serious in going against his party when he considers it important for his district—among the country’s poorest—or his native Puerto Rico.

A native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, he grew up in the Mill Brook project in Mott Haven. After serving in the Army, he worked at a bank and as a school administrator. Serrano moved up while other Bronx politicians fell by the wayside because of corruption. He was elected to the New York Assembly in 1974 and chaired its Education Committee. In 1985, he ran for Bronx borough president, bucking the Democratic organization, and nearly won. Then in January 1990, U.S. Rep. Robert García of the South Bronx was convicted of accepting money from the minority contractor Wedtech. His conviction was later reversed, but his resignation paved the way for Serrano’s election to the House.

Serrano once described himself as being “to the left of the left,” and he has one of the most liberal voting records in the House. He has long championed legislation to repeal the 22nd Amendment to allow presidents to serve more than two terms in office. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, he focuses on bringing as much federal money as he can to his economically struggling district. He chaired its Financial Services Subcommittee when the Democrats controlled Congress and is now its ranking Democrat.

Among Appropriations members he is known as a jokester, always ready to enliven hearings with a quip. At a June 2010 session on the Federal Communications Commission’s budget, he said he was doing his part for technology: “This hearing is online live as we speak. And I sent out a Twitter message. I put it on two Facebook pages and an e-mail. So we should get at least 10 people to watch.” At a comedy event at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he joked about keynote speaker Julian Castro and his twin brother Joaquin: “The Florida delegation threatened to walk out when they heard the Castro brothers were speaking at the convention.” Serrano told National Journal that humor is useful in a highly polarized House. “We take our work seriously, but we shouldn’t always take ourselves so seriously,” he said.

Serrano was the only House member from New York City who voted in 2008 against the federal bailout for banks and other financial services companies. He said he couldn’t justify giving money to the wealthy people who’d created the problem. A big local priority for Serrano has been cleaning up the Bronx River, and he delivered about $30 million for the effort. (When the river progressed to the point where it could support wildlife, a beaver appeared and was dubbed “José” in honor of Serrano’s work.) He helped secure $10 million in 2010 to rebuild the Fordham transit plaza, one of the city’s busiest. With Republicans in control of the House, he said he sees one of his chief goals as “trying to avoid as much harm as possible” in spending cuts in the federal budget.

Another of his issues is statehood for Puerto Rico, which he calls an American “colony.” A proponent of a long-stalled referendum to determine the island’s status, he got a bill through the House in 2010 calling for a two-step process. Unlike fellow Puerto Rican New York Democrat Nydia Velázquez, he saw great significance in the 2012 vote of islanders in favor of statehood, even though Congress did not authorize the process. “It will demand the attention of Congress, and a definitive answer to the Puerto Rican request for change,” he said. He also took credit for working with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Citizen Energy Corp. to strike a deal to bring cheaper oil to the South Bronx.

In early 2013, Serrano scoffed at Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s attempts to become a leader on immigration. He told the website Capital New York that Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, “has no support in the immigrant or Latino community for his stance on immigration. He’s as nasty as the rest of them.”

Although he is well-liked by colleagues, Serrano’s attempts to join the Democratic leadership have been stymied. In 1997, Democratic Minority Leader Dick Gephardt passed over him and picked the less-senior Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who was a better fundraiser, to be chief deputy whip. In 1998, Serrano ran for Democratic Caucus vice chairman as “the candidate who refuses to raise money to buy your vote for leadership.” He again lost out to Menendez, who went on to become a senator. Serrano was among the New York Democrats who briefly toyed with running against newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 primary because of concerns over her centrist voting record.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4361

(202) 225-6001

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2227
Washington, DC 20515-3215

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4361

(202) 225-6001

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2227
Washington, DC 20515-3215

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 620-0084

(718) 620-0658

1231 Lafayette Avenue 4th Floor
Bronx, NY 10474-5331

DISTRICT OFFICE

(718) 620-0084

(718) 620-0658

1231 Lafayette Avenue 4th Floor
Bronx, NY 10474-5331

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

910 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

910 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Aerospace

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Agriculture

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Banking

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Anthony Jordan
Community Affairs Advisor

Budget

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Campaign

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Crime

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Disability

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Education

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Energy

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Environment

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Family

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Anthony Jordan
Community Affairs Advisor

Foreign

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Govt Ops

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Gun Issues

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Health

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Homeland Security

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Housing

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Anthony Jordan
Community Affairs Advisor

Human Rights

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Immigration

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Intelligence

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Internet

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Judiciary

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Land Use

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Military

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Minorities

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Idalia Dominguez de Marty
Chief Administrator

National Security

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Native Americans

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Public Works

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Recreation

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Religion

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Science

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Seniors

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Small Business

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Tax

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Technology

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Matthew Alpert
Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Transportation

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Amanda Septimo
District Director

Veterans

Angel Nigaglioni
Legislative Counsel

Anthony Jordan
Community Affairs Advisor

Welfare

Anthony Jordan
Community Affairs Advisor

Women

Lukogho Kasomo
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
José Serrano
Unopposed
2012 PRIMARY
José Serrano
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
José Serrano
Votes: 61,642
Percent: 95.72%
2010 PRIMARY
José Serrano
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
José Serrano
Votes: 127,179
Percent: 96.59%
2008 PRIMARY
José Serrano
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (96%), 2008 (97%), 2006 (95%), 2004 (95%), 2002 (92%), 2000 (96%), 1998 (95%), 1996 (96%), 1994 (96%), 1992 (91%), 1990 (93%), 1990 special (92%)

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