On February 27th the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) hosted the Italian American Congressional Delegation (IACD) of the 113th Congress on Capitol Hill. Italy’s new Ambassador to the United States, Claudio Bisogniero, offered welcoming remarks. He spoke about the profound relationship between the United States and Italy, and how the two countries share common values, human rights, democracy, honesty, fairness, and strong family values.
Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Pat Tiberi (R-O.H.), co-chairs of the IACD, opened the proceedings by welcoming new members. Both Congressmen spoke on the importance of a unified Italian government, and a unified U.S. Congress. Rep. Pascrell opened the reception explaining the delegation works in a bipartisan way, “to honor our government and common heritage as well as draw attention to Italian heroes–Garibaldi, Brumidi, and every Italian American who has contributed to the greatness of our country.” With the current government and economic situation in Italy, he asked all to pray for the mother country and its challenges.
When Rep. Pascrell joined Rep. Tiberi at the podium, they joked about the large representation of members from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island at the event, and noted that Rep. Pascrell was the lone congressman from New Jersey.
Rep. Tiberi recounted a story about his nine-year-old daughter, Angelina, who was working on a report for school when she realized how Italians have done so much for America. He said, “We share a common culture that binds us–let’s celebrate what connects us tonight. We are so fortunate to have Ambassador Claudio Bisognero here with us tonight to help us strengthen our relationship with Italy.” He encouraged everyone support the Italian people as they face difficult times. “When we help our mother country, we help our country,” he added.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi recounted a recent reception at the White House when President Obama warmly greeted Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano, and many Italian Americans. “It’s all about personal relationships and respect we have for each other,” she added. She thanked NIAF for their work in bringing everyone together for the evening.
Congressional attendees included Sen. Michael Enzi (R-W.Y.), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-P.A.), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-O.R.), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-M.A.), Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-C.T.), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-P.A.), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-O.H.), Rep. Tom Marino (R-P.A.), Rep. Jim Renacci (R-O.H.), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-O.H.), and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-F.L.). Hosts for the evening included NIAF’s leadership: Gabriel A. Battista, Robert E. Carlucci, Mike Ferguson, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Joseph D. Lonardo, John P. Rosa, Mark Valente III, and John M. Viola.
Photo: Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-O.R.) and Patricia de Stacy Harrison, President and CEO of Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Courtesy of NIAF.