Bill Pascrell e Pat Tiberi (Co-Chairs of the Italian American Congressional Delegation)

L'Italia bipartisan al Congresso degli Stati Uniti

Jun 17, 2013 5420 ITA ENG

Entering in the US Congress in Washington DC everybody walks under the "rotunda", the dome of the Capitol. The fresco painted on the inside of it, "The Apotheosis of George Washington" dates back to 1855: it is one of the first artistic representations regarding the history of the United States, and is was done by an Italian, Constantino Brumidi, also known as "the Michelangelo of the United States".

We Italians are present at the Congress of the United States not only thanks to Brumidi. The Italian American Congressional Delegation brings together members of the Congress of Italian heritage: today they are 29, 4 Senators and 25 Representatives. But other 150 Members of the Congress, not of Italian heritage, are affiliated to this group, motivated by their interest in Italy and the Italian American community. The guide of the Italian American Congressional Delegation is bipartisan and entrusted to the New Jersey Democrat William (Bill) J. Pascrell and the Ohio Republican Patrick (Pat) J. Tiberi.

Hon. Pascrell, among the successful Italian Americans political leaders, women have had a big role. Three of them have been very important, all of them belonging to the Democratic Party: Ella T. Grasso, Geraldine Ferraro, and Nancy Pelosi ...

(Pascrell): Italian American woman have played a prominent role in forming the political landscape of our nation. Leaders like Ella Grasso, who became the first woman to be elected Floor Leader in House of Representatives and later became of the the first female governor's in the nation, paved the way for young women across our nation. Geraldine Ferraro has the distinct honor in American history as the first woman nominated for national office by a major party. In this role, Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life. As the first woman to hold the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives and to date the highest-ranking female politician in American history, Nancy Pelosi's record as a strong, pragmatic leader has unified the House Democratic Caucus. 

Hon. Tiberi, the two most important cities for the Italian emigration, New York and San Francisco, have had a few very famous and beloved mayors of Italian descent: Fiorello la Guardia, Angelo Joseph Rossi, Rudy Giuliani. All of them were Republicans ...

(Tiberi): Italian Americans have been involved in United States politics since this country’s founding.  In fact according to the National Italian American Foundation, one of our founding principles in the Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal” was suggested to Thomas Jefferson by his neighbor, Filippo Mazzei, a physician from Tuscany.

Italian Americans are involved in all aspects of public service from the local level to the federal level. I first met Mr. Giuliani more than a decade ago and then again when he was running for president; I was impressed. His work while he was mayor of New York was thrust into the spotlight when New York City was attacked on September 11, 2001.  The world got to see this Italian-American’s strengths – intelligence, leadership, and empathy.   

Politically, the relations between Italy and the US have always been excellent. As an important representative in the Congress of the USA of the Italian Americans, what can be done from both political sides to improve them?

(Pascrell): From my role as co-chair of the Italian American Congressional Delegation, I have had the opportunity to work closely with members of the Italian government. This involvement includes everything from meeting regularly with Ambassador Bisogniero in Washington, to traveling to Italy. It is important to remember that the close ties between Italy and the United States are not just because of the strength of the Italian American community in our country. Our two nations have been strong allies and partners on many issues.

(Tiberi): Promoting cultural awareness, knowledge and cooperation between the two nations will continue to foster good will.  The mutual desire for a safe, free, and prosperous future helps cement out positive and productive relationship. 

Hon. Pascrell, you represent in DC the 9th District of New Jersey, where a huge percentage of the population is of Italian descent. Can you describe us the Italian American community in New Jersey?

(Pascrell): New Jersey's Ninth Congressional District is home to one of the most diverse communities in our nation.  Immigrant groups from around the world have come to our shores in search of the American Dream, and many of these groups have settled in New Jersey because of the boundless opportunities available in this great state. Italian Americans in particular have made a significant impact on the Garden State. Their vibrant culture and entrepreneurial spirit form the fabric of communities across New Jersey. 

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, the son of Italian immigrants who was killed defending his country during World War II, proudly represented New Jersey ad will forever be remembered as a national hero.  Sgt. Basilone left behind a legacy of valor, courage, and patriotism that truly symbolizes the strength and resiliency that defines the Italian American community, our state and and nation.

Hon. Tiberi, you represent in DC the 12th District of Ohio, probably the most important of the swing States which every four year decides the Presidential election. Can you describe for us the Italian American community in Ohio?

(Tiberi): The Italian American community in Ohio is very proud and very strong.  In Central Ohio, where I live, the tight-knit community takes great pride preserving the traditions and customs brought this country by their relatives.  The Abruzzi Club, one of a dozen Italian-American clubs in Central Ohio, is one example, it’s a group where people feel a sense of community, whether it’s through bocce tournaments or periodic traditional dinners. 

There’s an Italian-American Catholic church that practices Italian traditions and hosts the Columbus Italian Festival.  In Northeast Ohio, the Italian American community is even stronger.  In the early to mid-20th century many Italians immigrated to Cleveland and Youngstown.  The area has a larger Italian American community, an Italian Catholic church, an Italian-language newspaper, and an Italian festival.  The community supports various Italian American foundations that promote philanthropic work.

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