PASCRELL SERVES ON CONGRESSIONAL ESCORT COMMITTEE,
PRESENTS ITALIAN PM WITH GIFT ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE OF NEW JERSEY
WASHINGTON - In an effort to celebrate and further build the United States' relationship with Italy, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08), the co-chairman of the Italian American Congressional Delegation, today served on the Congressional Escort Committee to welcome visiting Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
"I was honored to play an active role in welcoming Prime Minister Berlusconi to address this joint meeting of Congress," stated Pascrell, who visited Italy on a Homeland Security Committee mission earlier this year. "There is no doubt that Italy has been a steadfast ally in our military campaign in Iraq and in combating international terrorism. Today Congress put politics aside and came together to embrace an international leader who has stood with America to promote freedom and democracy throughout the world. "
In February of 2005, Pascrell co-authored a bipartisan Congressional letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert requesting Prime Minister Berlusconi be invited to address a Joint Session of Congress. Once the invitation was accepted by Berlusconi, Pascrell welcomed the Prime Minister's advance team and worked with them to prepare the message for Berlusconi's speech to the Congress and American people.
Pascrell proudly escorted Berlusconi to the House Floor where the Prime Minister delivered a speech that emphasized the importance of America's economic partnership with Italy and our alliance in the fight against terrorism. Pascrell then met with the Prime Minister and Congressional Leadership, before introducing Berlusconi during a reception hosted by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) on the Senate side of the Capitol. At the reception, Pascrell presented the Prime Minister with a book about the New Jersey, the state home to the most Italian-Americans per capita in the country.
"In this new day, the strong and special relationship between our two nations is incredibly important to the Congress and the American people," Pascrell told Mr. Berlusconi. "Questo rigalo - 'this gift' - is a token of appreciation for your friendship and support. Please accept our gratitude for all that you do. Tanto grazie for being here and your strong support for the United States."
The Italian premier left Washington, D.C. after visiting the Capitol to visit New York City, where he is to receive an award for promoting freedom and democracy.
Recent foreign leaders who have addressed a joint session of Congress include, Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India (7/19/2005), Victor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine (4/6/2005), and Ayad Allawi (9/23/2004), the interim President of Iraq.