Robert A. "Bob" Brady (born April 7, 1945) is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district, serving since 1998, and the ranking Democrat on the United States House Committee on House Administration since 2007. He has been the Chairman to the Philadelphia Democratic Party since 1986, and is one of the few members of congress who are a county chairman.
Early life, education, and pre-congressional career
Brady was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was an Irish American police officer and his mother was Italian American. He graduated from St.
Thomas More High School and didn't go to college. Brady went to work as a carpenter and became a part of the leadership of the Carpenters’ union. He is still a member of the Carpenters' and Teachers' unions.
Brady was elected a precinct committeeman for the Democratic Party in 1968. When his wardleader, City Council President George X. Schwartz was convicted and imprisoned in the Abscam scandal, Brady was elected to succeed him as Democratic Leader of the 34th Ward, a position that he still holds today.
Since June 1986, Brady has been the Chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party. Brady has also served as a staff aide in the Philadelphia City Council and a staff aide in the Pennsylvania State Senate.
Brady co-teaches a course at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission from 1991 until his election as a Congressman.
U.S. House of Representatives
When 17-year U.S. Congressman Thomas M.
Foglietta resigned from the House of Representatives upon being named U.S. Ambassador to Italy by Billl Clinton, Brady was amazingly unopposed in the primary and won the general election with 74% of the vote. Brady was sworn in on May 19, 1998. He has won re-election since, with at least 81% of the vote.
Brady is considered one of the most Progressive members of the House of Representatives.
Brady is pro-choice and voted against President Bush's restrictions on funding to family planning groups in 2001. Over the years, he has supported minors’ abortion rights, voting in 2005 for the right for those under 18 to obtain abortions across state lines without parental consent.
He voted against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, proposed by fellow Pennsylvanian Republican representative Joseph Pitts, which prohibits health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in a plan to any citizen. He also opposed the recent proposal to prohibit federally funded abortion services. Over the past fifteen years, organizations such as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and Planned Parenthood have rated him one hundred percent on his pro-choice voting record.
- Budget and Spending
Brady supports the growth of small businesses and voted in favor of the Small Business Lending Fund and Tax Law Amendment. The recent amendment, passed in September 2010, provides loans to small business through financial institutions. He, along with the House, passed the Small Business Jobs Bill in October 2010 to provide millions of small businesses with the tax relief and access to credit that they need to expand, grow, and hire workers.
His progressive stances on budget, spending, and taxes have earned him high ratings from interest groups like Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization advocating fair taxes for middle and low-income families.
U.S. Representative Brady supports a liberal stance on immigration as well. He voted against the Secure Fence Act (2006), which authorized the construction of additional fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006. He does continue to support Homeland Security Appropriations for border protection, in addition to the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Technology project. This government program works towards improving the nation's capability to keep track of immigrants and control their entry and exit. Minority rights’ interest groups such as the National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform consistently rate Brady from fifty to one hundred percent for his strong stance on immigration.
2007 Mayoral campaign
On January 25, 2007 Brady announced that he would seek the Democratic Party nomination for mayor of Philadelphia. He was the second sitting U.S. Congressman after Chaka Fattah to announce his candidacy for mayor. On March 6, Brady failed to list his city pension on the financial-interests statement he filed with his nominating petitions. Within a week Milton Street filed a petition challenge to remove Brady off the ballot due to not disclosing his pension. Another challenge was brought by a group of voters, and supported by mayoral candidates Tom Knox and Dwight Evans. On April 13 Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that Brady's failure to not list parts of his income should not keep him off the primary ballot.
On 2007 May 15, Brady lost the Democratic Mayoral primary to Michael Nutter.
Power and influence
When he ran for congress in a special election in 1998, he was unopposed in the Democratic primary despite the fact that the district was a Democratic stronghold. Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "the longtime boss of the Democratic City Committee, one of the few old-fashioned big-city political machines left. Running against him could equal career suicide."
In 2001, the political website PoliticsPA described him as a "consummate 'backroom politician' (and we say that with respect!)" and said that he might be the best county party chair in Pennsylvania. In 2003, the Pennsylvania Report said that Brady has "managed effectively to balance his multiracial district and city Democrat party." In 2009, the Pennsylvania Report noted that "[w]hile he still would like to be Mayor, Brady’s influence and power in Philadelphia remains strong."
State Senator Anthony Williams said he is "probably one of the most politically astute politicians in the last 20 years, and that's rarefied air." J. Whyatt Mondesire, head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said no one can match "Brady's relationships with politicians across the Democratic landscape."
January 24th, 2012