Frank Pallone Jr. was born on October 30, 1951 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He earned a BA from Middlebury College in 1973, an MA in international relations from Tufts University in 1974, and a JD from the Rutgers University School of Law in 1978. After working as an assistant professor at Rutgers during 1980-81, Pallone, a Democrat, served on the Long Branch city council from 1982-88, and in the New Jersey State Senate from 1983-88. The voters of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District then elected Pallone to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988. He continues to serve there as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, though in 1993 his district was renumbered as the 6th.
In May 2007, Pallone voted in favor of beginning to withdraw all U.S. troops out of Iraq within the ensuing 90 days, notwithstanding the recently initiated troop surge that would ultimately prove decisive in turning the tide of the Iraq War in America’s favor.
That same year, Pallone was one of 90 Members of Congress who signed an open letter delivered to President George W. Bush, stating: “We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.” The letter was initiated by the Peace Pledge Coalition, an alliance led by such notables as Medea Benjamin, Bill Fletcher, Kevin Zeese, and representatives of the Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, AfterDowningStreet.org, Velvet Revolution, and the Backbone Campaign.
When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Pallone was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group.
Claiming that the “carbon pollution” produced by human industrial activity contributes heavily to what he characterizes as potentially catastrophic global warming, Pallone asserts that “climate change is a moral issue” which, “with each day that passes by,” causes “more irreversible damage” to the earth’s environment. “[T]he science is clear,” adds the congressman. “The changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, and timing of extreme weather and climate events.” To address this problem, Pallone favors the implementation of a cap-and-trade program that taxes carbon emissions. In a related effort to wean the United States off of its dependency on fossil fuels, Pallone has voted against opening the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling; against barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases; against authorizing the construction of new oil refineries; in favor of extending a moratorium on offshore oil exploration; and in favor of prohibiting oil drilling in Alaska’s ANWR region.
Pallone adamantly opposed the 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down, as anachronistic, a Voting Rights Act provision requiring mainly Southern states to undergo—based on the presumption of their continuing racist tendencies—special federal scrutiny before being permitted to change their election laws in any way (e.g., by instituting Voter ID requirements or reconfiguring their voting districts). In August 2015 Pallone co-sponsored legislation to restore that provision, portraying the matter as a “struggle … between those who wish to expand access to the ballot box and those who wish to restrict it.”
In September 2015 Pallone decided to support the international agreement that the “P5+1” nations (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) had recently negotiated with Iran. By Pallone’s telling, the deal was “the most effective means available to monitor Iran’s nuclear program and peacefully prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” While the agreement placed some temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, it virtually guaranteed that the Iranians would be able to develop nuclear weapons within a decade or so. In May 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from this agreement with Iran, Pallone condemned Trump for “pursuing a policy based on extreme ideology rather than practical considerations” by “arbitrarily deciding to end this imperfect, but essential deal” and thereby “undercut[ting] our allies … who … desire to remain in the agreement.”
A few days after a coordinated series of November 13, 2015 attacks by Islamic State terrorists had killed at least 129 people in Paris, France, Pallone organized an event where Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders gathered at a New Jersey church to publicly express their desire to accept refugees from war-torn Syria. Such a course of action was highly controversial because Syria, at that time, was a haven for many thousands of Islamic State members who had the potential to infiltrate any flow of refugees to the West. “We’ve been a country that takes people who are refugees,” Pallone said nonetheless. “We shouldn’t just change that as a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Paris.”
In a similar spirit, Pallone’s congressional website in 2014 called for the passage of “commonsense” immigration-reform legislation designed to “unite families [by eliminating deportations] and offer hardworking immigrants an earned pathway to become taxpaying American citizens.” Such reform, the website promises, “will create jobs, boost economic growth, increase productivity, strengthen Social Security, raise wages, and reduce the deficit.”
Over the course of his congressional career, Pallone’s voting record on immigration-related matters has been highly consistent with an open-borders stance. For example, he has voted against building a fence along the Mexican border to stem the flow of illegal immigration; against requiring hospitals to alert law-enforcement authorities to the presence of illegal aliens who receive medical treatment therein; in favor of the DREAM Act, which offers legalized status to unlawful immigrants who first came to the U.S. as minors and are still younger than 35; against the Real ID Act, which advocates minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards; and against the 2015 Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, which called for the cessation of federal funding to any state or local governments that restricted law enforcement from looking into the citizenship or immigration status of criminal suspects within their jurisdiction.
For an overview of Pallone’s voting record on a range of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Pallone, click here.