Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XIV, Issue #12

Jul 12, 2016
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Serrano Leads Opposition to Financial Services Appropriations Bill

Last week, Congressman Serrano led the Democratic opposition to the highly partisan Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, which was considered on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

“This bill underfunds important parts of the federal government, and injects unrelated and harmful riders that prevent numerous federal agencies to move forward with efforts to help the American people,” said Congressman Serrano.  “It is legislation that hurts working families, taxpayers, consumers and investors.  I fought against these efforts, and I will continue to oppose a bill that harms so many parts of our nation.” 

The bill is funded 6 percent below last year’s level, and is littered with dozens of riders that harm the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Communications Commission, and many other agencies.  It passed the House on a largely party line vote, 239-185. 

Congressman Serrano’s Statement on Tragedies in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas

On Friday, Congressman Serrano released the following statement concerning the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the deaths of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas:

“After events of the past few days, with tragedies in Minnesota, Louisiana, and now Texas, many of us, including myself, are asking how it is that we are once again facing this cycle of tragedy.  The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are too heartbreaking, too horrifying, and sadly, too familiar.  In communities like the Bronx, these stories are far too routine –in the midst of sorrow, there is a small part of all of us that is simply not surprised. 

“That the devastating deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have been compounded by the killing of at least 5 police officers in Dallas is deeply upsetting.  Not a single one of these deaths was necessary, and I mourn with the families and friends of each and every person who lost their lives over the past 72 hours.  Over the next few days we will find out much more about each of these events, but there is one conclusion that we can all come to right now:  things need to change.

“We need more accountability for law enforcement. We need more law enforcement training.  We need to rebuild trust between communities of color and police officers.  We need to stop dehumanizing people of color- especially black men.  We need to stop gun violence.  We need to keep guns out of the hands of bad actors. We need to hold our public officials- elected and unelected- accountable.  We need to address a culture that routinely portrays people of color in a negative light.  We need to address an entertainment system that glorifies violence.  We need to activate.  We need to speak out.  We need to vote. We need to pray.  We need to love.”

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano on Passing of Bronx Legend Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr.

Congressman José E. Serrano mourned the loss of Bronx legend, Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr.

“We've lost a great American and a great New Yorker," said Serrano. "As a World War II combat veteran as pilot in the famed Tuskegee Airman, former Bronx Community College President, civil and human rights advocate, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a very good friend, Dr. Brown was a true American hero. He played a large and important role in serving his country, his community, and in fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities for all Americans.  I came to know him while he was President of Bronx Community College (BCC), where he helped bring BCC to national prominence as an urban educational model and fought to ensure greater access to jobs and educational opportunities.  Dr. Brown was also an avid runner, and on dozens of occasions we ran together the Bronx Community College (BCC) 5 & 10K - a race that he founded during his tenure at BCC. The Bronx is lucky to have benefited from Dr. Brown’s decades of service, and I was lucky to call him a friend.   Rest in peace Dr. Brown, you will always be in our hearts and memories.

Serrano Calls Again for Gun Safety Legislation

Earlier this month, Congressman Serrano called again for action on gun safety legislation as part of the National Day of Action on Gun Violence Prevention. Congressman Serrano joined his Democratic colleagues on Wednesday June 29 in demanding that Speaker Ryan allow an up-or-down vote on pending bipartisan legislation to strengthen and expand background checks, as well as bipartisan legislation to ban individuals on terrorism watch lists from buying guns. The two bipartisan bills have the overwhelming support of the American public. According to the latest polls, 92% of Americans support expanded background checks and that 85% of Americans support banning people on federal terrorism watch lists from buying guns.

“With today’s National Day of Action we want to continue voicing Americans’ concerns about terrorism and gun violence, and spreading the message about the importance of taking immediate action. The only thing standing in the way of passing bipartisan legislation that has the overwhelming support of the American people are House Republicans’ obstructionist ways and concessions to the gun lobby. Tragedies involving guns and gun violence are far too common in the Bronx and elsewhere, and there is more that Congress can and should do to help the American people and prevent the next tragedy from occurring.  It’s time to action on these common sense bills- we cannot remain silent any longer.”

The National Day of Action followed the historic 26-hour “sit-in” that Democrats led two weeks ago. Following the "sit-in" in Congress, Serrano also participated in a local press conference that  members of the New York delegation held in New York City to call for action.

NY sit in presser

Congressman Serrano Announces Hostos Community College Has Been Selected for Student Prisoners Financial Aid Pilot Program

Last week, Congressman José E. Serrano announced  that Hostos Community College has been selected to participate in a pilot program with a limited number of spots that will provide Pell grants to students in prison. Hostos Community College was one of only 67 schools selected to participate in Second Chance Pell; more than 200 schools applied. Congress banned the use of Pell grants for prisoners in 1994, but the Administration is launching the pilot program by using the President’s  “experimental sites” authority under the Higher Education Act. The primary goal of the pilot program is to study the cost and benefit of the program, and in turn provide the more than 12,000 prisoners that will participate in it with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully reincorporate in their communities.

“I am thrilled that the Obama Administration has selected Hostos Community College as one of the 67 pilot programs named in the President’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program," said Serrano. "Individuals who have almost finished paying their debt to society and are on the verge of reentry should be given every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, they continue to face enormous barriers in gaining steady employment or furthering their education, which often results in returning to criminal behavior, driving up the criminal justice system’s reincarceration costs. This forward thinking approach will only help lower recidivism rates and related government spending, as well as help keep our communities safer in the long-run. I am confident that these pilot programs will finally show that education is a pathway out of poverty and a life of crime, and I hope that it serves as a catalyst for Congress to reconsider the use of Pell grant funds for incarcerated populations. I applaud the Administration’s work on this issue, and proud that Hostos Community College will be a part of the solution.”