José Enrique Serrano (born October 24, 1943) is a New York politician, currently representing the state's 16th congressional district (map) in the United States House of Representatives. His son, Jose M. Serrano is a member of the New York State Senate.
Serrano's district is one of the smallest in the country geographically consisting of a few miles of the heavily urbanized and populated South Bronx in New York City. His district is also one of the most densely populated and one of the few majority Hispanic districts in the country. Yankee Stadium is in his district. In addition to José Marco, Serrano has four other children.
A member of the Progressive Caucus, he is widely regarded as one of the most liberal members of Congress. He has been questioned about his pork barrel spending by some fiscal conservative members of Congress. Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake once said of Serrano's $150,000 earmark to repair the roof at the city-owned Arthur Avenue Market (an historic indoor produce and prepared food market in the Bronx's "Little Italy"), "I would argue this is one cannoli the taxpayer doesn’t want to take a bite of." Serrano replied to Flake: "The more you get up on these, Sir, the more I realize that you do not know what you are talking about. I make no excuses about the fact that I earmark dollars to go in the poorest congressional district in the nation, which is situated in the richest city on earth."
In 2005, Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Serrano has paid attention to local environmental issues in New York, with a particular focus on constructing greenways, acquiring parklands, and cleaning up the Bronx River, which runs through his district. Recently a beaver was discovered swimming in the river for the first time in 200 years, something seen as a testament to his efforts.. In 2007, he engineered the purchase of the last privately-owned island in NY harbor--South Brother Island--for preservation in perpetuity by the City of New York as a wildlife refuge for rare shorebirds.
Serrano is one of three New York-area congressmen on the House Appropriations Committee, the others being Nita Lowey of the 18th District and Steve Rothman of New Jersey's 9th congressional district (which abuts New York City). He is the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services. As chairman, he successfully engineered the inclusion of language in the 2007 omnibus spending bill that guarantees the extension of the 50 State Quarters program to include the minting of 6 additional quarters to honor the District of Columbia and the 5 United States territories, including Serrano's native Puerto Rico.
Serrano has also been an advocate for Puerto Ricans under FBI prosecution In May of 2000 he brokered an agreement with then FBI Director Louis Freeh, then Puerto Rican Independence Party senator Manuel Rodríguez Orellana and then Puerto Rico Senate Federal Affairs Committee chairman Kenneth McClintock, the islands' current Senate President, that has resulted in the release of nearly 100,000 pages of previously secret FBI files on Puerto Rican political activists.