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About Congressman José E. Serrano

The Honorable Jose E. Serrano

Congressman José Ernesto Serrano of South Bronx, New York City, spent his career in local, state, and federal politics supporting the equal opportunity, education, and economic prosperity of underrepresented communities. In 2019, after announcing his intention to retire at the end of his term in 2021, Congress honored him by renaming the NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) as the José E. Serrano EPP/MSI, citing his “steadfast leadership and support for increasing the participation of underrepresented communities in the sciences.”

In 1969, Congressman Serrano started his political career on a New York City District School Board following his service in the United States Army Medical Corp. In 1975, he joined the New York State Assembly, where he served first as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Consumer affairs and then chairman of the Assembly Committee on Education.

Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1990, Congressman Serrano served on the Commerce, Justice, Science House Appropriations Subcommittee from 1993 to the present and became Chair of the Subcommittee starting in 2019. Representative Serrano took special interest in the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions. Between 2000 and 2020, the EPP/MSI program received appropriations totaling $281 million. 

Throughout his career, Congressman Serrano was a champion for social and environmental justice, largely through his role on the House Committee on Appropriations. Serrano delivered more than $30 million for one of his most celebrated accomplishments: the restoration of the Bronx River in New York. In addition to securing financial support, he fostered collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental organizations. His efforts have transformed the Bronx River from a polluted waterway to a prized local resource.

Several pieces of legislation introduced by Congressman Serrano were specifically intended to support underserved communities. Two notable successes in which he played an instrumental role are the National Drop-Out Prevention Act (1991), which supports schools’ efforts to prevent dropouts of at-risk youth, and the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act (1992), which mandates that voter materials be provided in different languages.

Prior to his retirement in 2021, Congressman Serrano was Senior Whip for the Minority Whip operation, a position that allowed him to coordinate and rally support for party positions and legislation. He was also the Dean of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and served as Chair of the Caucus from 1993-1994. At the time of his retirement, he was the most senior Hispanic Democrat and longest-serving Puerto Rican in Congress.