The Serrano Report, Vol. VII, #8

On Capitol Hill

Serrano Votes for Historic Health Reform Bill, Goes to Signing Ceremony at White House

On Sunday night, Congressman Serrano proudly voted in favor of the health reform package that passed the House by a vote of 219-212.

“Today I had the privilege of voting for the most important legislation that I have helped pass in my 35 years in office,” Serrano said that night. “With the passage of this bill, people around this nation will see immediate changes that improve their lives. They will see an end to the abuses that the health insurance companies have made standard over the past decades. They will see an end to the insecurity about getting sick and losing coverage. And perhaps most importantly, they will see that people who now cannot afford health insurance will be helped in getting it.

“I remain committed to ensuring that we pass comprehensive immigration reform, which will bring the undocumented into the coverage that this bill provides. I am sad that some people felt that this bill was a place to exclude the undocumented. To me, we now have yet another reason why we must enact non-punitive comprehensive immigration reform.

“Despite the fact that this is not a perfect bill in my opinion, the bottom line is that it is a huge step forward for American families. We are broadening and deepening the American social contract, which says that we are all in this together and we must work together for a more just nation. By sharing our healthcare costs and benefits among us all, we are going to save lives and money. This is a bold step forward and I am proud to be part of the Congress that finally finished this work.”

To see Congressman Serrano speaking earlier on the House floor in favor of the legislation, please click here.

Later in the week, Serrano joined President Obama, the Democratic House Leadership, and other Congressional Democrats for the signing of the health care reform bill.

“Witnessing the signing of this historic legislation will go down as one of the highlights of my legislative career,” Serrano said after the ceremony. “Future generations will look back on this moment as a turning point in American history not unlike the passage of Social Security and Medicare. Over the past 14 months, the health care debate has taken many twists and turns, and yet despite the many scare tactics and misrepresentations, Democrats stuck together and passed this bill. The bottom line is that we knew all along that despite the false claims, this bill will help Americans to lead better, more healthy lives, without fear of illness or financial ruin.

“Today we watched as this President, who arrived in office with such promise and with the hopes of so many Americans resting on him, completed one of the biggest policy accomplishments of his young presidency. I look forward to many more of these signing ceremonies in coming years, as we make good on the promise of change that we made in the 2008 election. The process may not have been pretty, but the end result is a change in our American society that we can all support –as America is made more fair and more just for all.”

Serrano with Vice President Biden at the signing ceremony

 Serrano with Vice President Biden at the signing ceremony for the health-care bill

Serrano Attends Immigration Rally on Mall

On Sunday, in the midst of the health-care debate, Congressman Serrano, along other members of the Hispanic Caucus and Congress, went to the National Mall to join thousands of people calling for immigration reform. "As we near the finish line for health care," said Serrano afterwards, "it is time that we turn our attention to the millions of hard-working immigrants in our country to make sure that they are given a fair deal as well. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a fair and just immigration-reform bill."

 Representatives (from l to r) Jared Polis (CO.), Serrano, Raúl Grijalva (AZ) and Grace Napolitano (CA) leaving the immigration rally

 Representatives (from l to r) Jared Polis (CO.), Serrano, Raúl Grijalva (AZ) and Grace Napolitano (CA) leaving the immigration rally


Serrano Meets with Bronx Job Corps Members

On Wednesday, Congressman Serrano met with students from the South Bronx Job Corps, who presented him with a plaque thanking him for his support of their program. Serrano commended the program for its outstanding leadership within the community and stressed the importance of having programs like Job Corps in the Bronx that can help young people finish their education and learn valuable job skills.

Members of the South Bronx Job Corps presenting a plaque to Serrano

 Members of the South Bronx Job Corps presenting a plaque to Serrano

Serrano Discusses Arecibo Observatory’s Future

On Wednesday, Congressman Serrano discussed the future of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico with National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Dr. Arden Bement, Jr.  The question and answer session took place during an appropriations subcommittee hearing on the NSFs fiscal year 2011 budget. 

In response to Serrano’s questions, Director Bement distanced himself from the results of a 2006 facility review that recommended the closure of the Arecibo Observatory after 2011 if significant sources of non-federal funding were not found.  He said that the intent of the NSF was not to close the facility, but to work to find partners to help share the costs of running it.  He also said that NSF is looking within other areas of NSF to help fund Arecibo, such as the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, as well as looking to NASA for help in providing funding for the facility to continue its important work on Near Earth Object detection and observation.

“I have spent the past several years working to ensure that Arecibo remains open and asking questions about its future because I believe that it is a vital science facility,” said Serrano. “I was thankful that Director Bement backed away from assertions made in the 2006 review that Arecibo should be closed after 2011.  That proposal was misguided and troubling, because of the continuing importance of the facility to ongoing scientific research and to Puerto Rico. I welcome Director Bement’s statements about the future of the facility and the need to find partners to help fund the important work that continues there.  I look forward to NSF engaging in aggressive outreach with NASA and other partners to ensure the future of Arecibo.”

“I stand ready to come to the defense of Arecibo to ensure that this important research center is funded in a way that allows it to continue to make substantive contributions to science. It has a long history of discoveries and breakthroughs, and it will be a valuable resource for many years to come, provided that it is funded adequately.”

In the Bronx

Serrano Honors Concert Master and Local Community Leader

Recently Congressman Serrano recognized the outstanding achievements of two Puerto Rican leaders: Carmen Allende, longtime community leader and Executive Director of the South Bronx Action Group, and Henry Hutchinson Negrón, accomplished pianist and Concert Master of the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this year, Ms. Allende had received the Bronx Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Woman of Distinction award, while Mr. Negrón had received Pregones Theater’s 2010 Master Artist Award.  Serrano presented both individuals with congratulatory remarks in honor of their respective achievements.

“I’m always very happy to be able to lend my voice to the ceremonies honoring great leaders in the Bronx,” Serrano said.  “Carmen Allende is someone I’ve known and respected for many, many years.  She is a public servant in the truest sense and someone for whom our community has a most special place in its heart.  Henry Hutchinson Negrón, meanwhile, is by all accounts a master in the concert and orchestral arts.  Every year Pregones Theatre strives to raise the bar for recognizing artistic brilliance in our community and I was very pleased to welcome him to the South Bronx.”

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center Weekend Hours

On Saturday, March 27th,  from 9:00 am-2:00 pm, several Taxpayer Assistance Centers in the New York City area will be open to receive taxpayers who have questions about filing their 2009 tax forms, which are due on April 15th. Taxpayers will be able to receive help in claiming important tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credits and the Making Work Pay Tax Credit. Taxpayer Assistance Centers are IRS operated locations that can provide tax preparation assistance to taxpayers who earn $49,000 or less and can address payment and other IRS issues for all taxpayers.

Taxpayer Assistance Centers open this weekend are located at:

1200 Waters Place
Bronx, NY 10461

2283 3rd Ave (between 124th St. and 125th St.)
New York, NY 10035

TAC’s also maintain hours from 8:30 am-4:30 pm during the week.  You may walk-in, or call to make an appointment at (212) 436-1000 for all New York locations.  You can also obtain tax preparation assistance from numerous Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs located in the Bronx.  To find the VITA center nearest you, please call 1-800-906-9887.

Please Fill Out and Return Your 2010 Census Form

By now, you should have received your 2010 Census in the mail.  Please be sure to promptly fill it out and send it back, and urge your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same.  

“This is our opportunity to show how much the Bronx has grown and changed over the last decade,” said Serrano.  “The Bronx has historically suffered from a large undercount, and lost out on federal funds as a result.  By filling out your form and promptly returning it, you will help the Bronx to receive its fair share of funding for housing programs, for schools, and for health care.  Filling out your census form quickly helps your friends, family, and neighbors in the future.”

Many constituents may have questions about the 10 questions on the Census form.  The Bureau of the Census has several resources to help answer these inquiries.  Information about the questionnaire is available at the census website here and here.  You can also call the 2010 Census Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868 (English) or 1-866-928-2010 (Spanish).

Please note that you must answer all questions on the form and that all the information you provide is confidential and cannot be shared with other government agencies.

Grant Opportunities

Cultural Preservation Grant

Application Deadline: July 1, 2010

The National Endowment for the Humanities has recently announced the availability of funding to promote access to cultural heritage centers in the United States.  The Preservation and Access Education and Training program supports the collection of books, manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts with the goal of preserving these resources in libraries, museums and other archives.  This program also supports educational programs which teach the next generation of conservators the skills associated with professional preservation.  State and local governments, institutions of higher learning, and 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations are encouraged to apply. 

For more information about this opportunity, please read the full description.

For information on other government grants, please go to: