Hon. John J. LaFalce
Member of Congress, 1975-2002
Hon. John J. LaFalce has been Special Counsel to HoganWillig since 2007. As a respected figure in the local and national political landscape for over three decades (in fact, he was named one of the "smartest" Members of Congress, and in April 2010 was named one of Buffalo's leading celebrities), Buffalo native Congressman LaFalce graduated from Canisius High School (1957), Canisius College (1961) and Villanova University School of Law (1964).
From 1965 to 1967 Congressman LaFalce served in the United States Army during the Vietnam Era, leaving active duty with the rank of Captain. In 1970, he ran successfully for the New York State Senate, and in 1972 was elected to the New York State Assembly. In 1974, he was nominated for Lieutenant Governor, but instead ran successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman LaFalce became only the second Democrat, and the first since 1912, to win election in what was then the 36th Congressional District of New York. He went on to serve Western New York in the U.S. Congress for 28 years, from January 1975 through January 2003. His congressional career spanned six United States Presidents - Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and President George W. Bush. For many of those years Congressman LaFalce was Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, with jurisdiction over all Small Business laws, and Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, with jurisdiction over all financial issues, including banks, housing and community development, international financial institutions such as The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund, etc.
As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, he was Congress's chief advocate for the needs and concerns of America's vital small business community.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), with over 600,000 members said: "he has steered his committee into the center of issues which directly affect small business.... He has articulated many of our concerns on bills before Congress... giving us an official voice in these debates for the first time in a decade. This has really been the first time a Small Business Committee Chairman has been so attentive."
Small Business Innovation & Research - As author of the SBIR law, he helped create thousands of jobs through development of new and innovative technology. The leading small business magazine, INC., termed the LaFalce bill "the most important piece of small business legislation yet enacted in our lifetime."
Women Business Owners -For his efforts, he was honored in 1988 by the National Association of Women Business Owners as Congressional Advocate of the Year. Congressman LaFalce took a special interest in the needs and concerns of women business owners. He recognized that women business owners represented an untapped goldmine in America, and despite starting new businesses twice as fast as men, women still faced subtle and overt forms of gender-based discrimination. In 1988, Mr. LaFalce authored and saw signed into law H.R. 5050, the Women's Business Ownership Act. The bill ensured that commercial lending practices would be applied equally to all businesses based on the financial merits of the business. The bill eliminated any discrimination based on gender. This landmark legislation continues to provide opportunities for women in today's marketplace. In 2008, Mr. LaFalce was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners as Congressional Advocate of the Year and by the National Women's Business Council in honor of the 20th anniversary of H.R. 5050.
White House Conference on Small Business - He authored the law creating a White House Conference on Small Business in 1995. The delegates were addressed by President Clinton, the Vice President, and Rep. LaFalce.
Small Business Council of America - He received the 'Congressional Award' from the Small Business Council of America, which read in part: "when others trample asunder the rights and best interests of small business, he steps forward and moves mountains."
American Economic Leadership Council - He received the American Economic Leadership Council's first Legislative Leadership Award for his work in promoting jobs and the economy.
As Ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Representative LaFalce was especially interested in TRADE AND COMPETITIVENESS, HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, FINANCIAL SERVICES MODERNIZATION, CREDIT UNIONS, INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ISSUES, CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, and CONSUMER PROTECTIONS.
Consumer Bill of Rights - In March 2001, he introduced a series of bills to expand the protections in current law for consumers of financial services. This legislation was authored to help consumers confront unfair and deceptive practices in with almost every financial decision that affects their daily lives, whether using credit cards, obtaining a mortgage, leasing a car, or writing a check.
Consumer Federation of America - In a recent statement the Consumer Federation of America said: "No one in Congress has fought harder for everyday consumers and investors than John LaFalce. He combines a bedrock commitment to consumer protection with a savvy awareness of how to move important legislation through Congress in the face of special interest opposition."
TRADE AND COMPETITIVENESS
White House Conference on Productivity- In the early 1980's, he aggressively tackled realistic ways to rectify the nation's dismal performance in the areas of productivity and competitiveness. In 1982, as Chairman of a Small Business Subcommittee, he won enactment of legislation mandating a White House Conference on Productivity, which was held in the fall of 1983 with over 1,000 participants. Keynote speakers included President Reagan, Vice President Bush, the Secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, and Labor, and Representative LaFalce.
Industrial Policy Hearings - As Chairman of the Banking Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization, he led an unprecedented effort to examine the need for an industrial policy to enhance U.S. Industrial Competitiveness. The Buffalo News said these hearings, held over a four-year period, "assembled this century's most complete record on the inter-workings of American manufacturing, monetary and trade policy. There have been three truly great studies of American industry done in this century ... (the last being) John LaFalce's 1983-87."
Competitiveness Policy Council - He authored in 1988 law creating the Competitiveness Policy Council, which provided an important forum for long-term strategies to improve the competitiveness of U.S. industries. The Competitiveness Policy Council provided a useful model for the National Economic Council created under the Clinton Administration and maintained under the Bush Administration.
Currency Stability - He authored legislation to achieve international exchange rate stability. The law mandates that the Treasury Department send what is known as the "LaFalce Report" to Congress every six months on currency exchange rates, highlighting potential problems. Regarding the 1994 Mexican peso devaluation, the late Washington Post columnist, Hobart Rowen, wrote in a February, 1995 column: "Rep John J. LaFalce has a right to say 'I told you so'. [He] predicted that peso devaluation was inevitable."
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
He used his position on the Financial Services Committee to fight for increased funding for key housing and community development programs, and to enact numerous housing initiatives designed to expand home-ownership.
Community Development Block Grants - He crafted legislation to assure the continuation of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) - securing literally billons of dollars for Western New York over the years. He was the driving force in changing the formulas to advantage older communities, largely in the Northeast, and was able to legislate that the Town of Tonawanda be declared an entitlement city, like Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester, thereby automatically receiving millions of dollars annually.
Urban Development Action Grants - his co-authored legislation creating the federal Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG) program, which has targeted billions of dollars for distressed cities to help spur private development and jobs.
Renewal Communities - He played a key role in creating and enacting into law Renewal Community legislation, which provides a broad range of investment tax incentives designed to spur economic development and create jobs in 40 Renewal Communities nationwide, including Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Rochester.
Elderly Housing - He worked to provide billions of dollars for elderly and family housing across America, especially for Western New York.
Fannie Mae - He successfully persuaded Fannie Mae to establish a partnership office in Buffalo and to commit $5 billion for new housing investments in the region, a figure which the office greatly exceeded.
FINANCIAL SERVICES MODERNIZATION
Chairman, Task Force on The International Competitiveness of U.S. Financial Institutions.
Crafted legislation that led to enactment of the Financial Services Act of 1999, referred to by The New York Times as "landmark legislation...The pre-eminent legislative accomplishment of the year." The Associated Press referred to Rep. LaFalce's "leading role" in crafting the final measure; Congress Daily called him the Administration's "point man on financial issues."
For his leadership role, Rep. LaFalce was given the "American Financial Leadership Award" by the Financial Services Roundtable.
Rep. LaFalce has been honored for his leadership by the Credit Union National Association, the New York Credit Union League, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. A special career recognition award was given by the National Association of Federal Credit Unions in October, 2002, citing LaFalce for being "a champion for federal credit unions and their members for more than twenty-five years."
INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ISSUES
Rep. LaFalce has been honored throughout his career for his leadership on international financial, trade, and development issues. At the end of the 1980's, he worked closely with Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady to devise and implement a regime for debt restructuring, eventually known as the "Brady Plan", a plan based in large part on an essay LaFalce wrote for the Journal on the International Economy. In arguing for the importance of debt forgiveness tied to sound policy reform in poor countries, he helped lay the groundwork for the landmark Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative a decade later.
Third World Debt Forgiveness - During the Jubilee Year 2000, he successfully passed his historic legislation on international debt relief, the Debt Relief for Poverty Reduction Act of 1999 (HR 1095). For his leadership on debt relief and his humanitarian work in congress, Rep. LaFalce was given special awards by both Bread for the World and Oxfam America, two major global anti-poverty organizations.
He was the leading advocate in Congress for strong investor protections. In early 2001, he played a prescient leadership role in alerting the world to the warning signs that these problems were just around the corner. He was a prime mover of the sweeping corporate accounting reform legislation signed into law on July 25, 2002, marking the first step toward bringing about needed change to U.S. capital markets and restoring credibility to corporate America. The new Corporate Accountability Act largely parallels the original bill introduced by Rep. LaFalce in February 2002.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney praised his "courageous leadership" and said "I particularly want to thank Congressman LaFalce, who has really stood out... as a leader ready to take on powerful Wall Street and big money interests on behalf of working families."
Then House Minority Leader-Elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi said "kudos to Financial Services Ranking Member John LaFalce for a magnificent display of leadership ... in passing the LaFalce-Sarbanes corporate reform legislation."
House Minority Leader Rep. Richard Gephardt said "[His] approach does more than make cosmetic reform. It restores accountability to corporate America... [he has been] a Patton-like General [winning] an unconditional surrender from opponents... He has been a gold standard on this issue."
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said "You should enact the LaFalce legislation."
Former Chief Accountant of the SEC and now the Director of the Center for Quality Financial Reporting, Lynn Turner said "Congressman LaFalce's bill...is one that provides a systemic solution for what is truly a systemic problem.... So while the Sarbanes bill may not have the LaFalce name on it, it will have his intent and heart behind it."
Congressman LaFalce's district concerns, especially the ENVIORNMENT and CANADIAN ISSUES, based on our proximity to Canada, led him to emphasizing these areas.
Love Canal - Rep. LaFalce first discovered the problems at the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls in the summer of 1977, and immediately urged the Environment Protection Agency to deal with the problem. He brought President Jimmy Carter, Governor Hugh Carey, Rep. Al Gore, and others to Western New York for on-site visits. He urged swift action on relocation of the residents and cleanup of the site. As a result, the following year Governor Carey and President Carter declared a health emergency at Love Canal, paving the way for the relocation and cleanup.
Superfund - In response to the events at Love Canal, he crafted and introduced the first Superfund legislation to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the cleanup of abandoned toxic wastes. President Carter later submitted a scaled-down version of his bill, and Congress subsequently approved it in December 1980.
Radioactive Waste Cleanups - He secured nearly $1 billon to clean up radioactive waste sites in Western New York left behind from the Manhattan Project.
Center for Health Environment and Justice - He was recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington to mark the 20th anniversary of the emergency declaration at Love Canal. Four awards were given to environmental leaders: Rep. LaFalce, EPA Administrator Doug Costle, Jane Fonda, and Vice President Al Gore.
Representative LaFalce founded and was Chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus from 1994 to 2003. He took a leading role in Congress of all Canadian-American relations.
Repeal of Section 110 - The 1996 Immigration Act directed INS to implement a new entry-exit documentation system along the nation's borders. Repeal of Section 110 was the top legislative priority of all local chambers of commerce. Rep. LaFalce authored repeal legislation, which formed the basis for the "Section 110 Reform Act".
Niagara Bridges - He authored special legislation permitting the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) to move forward with $121 million in bridge improvements in 1991. Over the years, he helped bring millions in federal transportation grants to Western New York for upgrading and strengthening all Western New York border crossings to help keep pace with the growing number of vehicles.
In recognition of his leadership on U.S.-Canadian Border Issues, he was honored in 2002 by the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance for his "meaningful contributions to the improvement of U.S.-Canadian Trade, Transportation and Management."
Along with the United States' two former Ambassadors to Canada, he has been selected as a member of the Senior Advisor Board to the Canadian-American Business Council.
Representative LaFalce also took an active interest in health care issues, especially diabetes, multiple sclerosis and sleep disorders.
Universal Health Care - From his first day in Congress, he championed health care as a basic right of citizenship, not a privilege of employment.
Diabetes - As Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, he was honored twice by the American Diabetes Association with its Valor Award in recognition of his continuing efforts to secure increased funding for diabetes research and "for his outstanding service to people with diabetes".
Multiple Sclerosis - In 1995, he was honored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as "Congressman of the Year" for his "deep personal appreciation and commitment to the needs of people with MS."
Sleep Disorders - In 2001, he received the National Sleep Foundation's first Public Policy Leadership Award in recognition of his efforts to increase national attention to the problem of sleep disorders.
Admissions to Practice in New York State
New York State, 1964
U.S. District Court Western District of New York, 1964
Supreme Court of the United State of America, 1977
Professional Associations & Memberships
On March 26, 2012, Congressman LaFalce was elected Chairman of both the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Corporation.
Bretton Woods Committee
Canadian American Border Trade Alliance, Honorary Chairman
Canadian American Business Council, Senior Advisory Board
Commission to Celebrate the War of 1812
Executive Committee of Citizens for Better Buffalo
Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern, Honorary Director
Individual Investor Advisory Board to the New York Stock Exchange
State Bancorp Inc. and State Bank of Long Island, Director (Chairman Compliance Committee)
The National Association to End Homelessness, Director (Chairman Nominating Committee)
The New York State Banking Board
The North Tonawanda History Museum, Honorary Director
Western New York Legal Center, Honorary Director
National Italian-American Foundation, Director (Chairman Audit Committee)
The Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette Foundation, Director
Honors and Awards
Congressman LaFalce has been awarded four prestigious Honorary Doctorate Degrees, and is the first non-alumnus to be given the distinguished alumnus award by the University of Buffalo School of Law. He also received the Liberty Bell Award from the Erie County Bar Association for his significant governmental contributions. From 2003-2006 Congressman LaFalce was The Peter Canisius Distinguished University Professor at Canisius College; from 2007-2009 he was the Vincentian Distinguished University Fellow at Niagara University.
In 1991, the Villanova University School of Law recognized him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
In 1990, Canisius College awarded Rep. LaFalce on honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his Extraordinary leadership as a Member of Congress and champion of the citizens of Western New York.
In 1989 St. John's University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1989, emphasizing in their commendation that Rep. LaFalce proves that public service in a democracy can be the most noble of professions.
In 1979 Niagara University also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1979. The Niagara University citation read in part: ".. .Three qualities emerge as best describing the man: honesty, energy and conviction. His honesty is attested by the estimation that he knows who he is, whom he represents, and what he is doing in Congress. His energy is realized in the extent and diversity of his involvement and legislative efforts.. , as well as his thoroughness, his dogged determination to see a matter through to its completion. His conviction is demonstrated by a creed which avows regardless of which side of the aisle it originated, 'Truth is truth, Justice will out, and the Law must be upheld."
Homeownership Alliance--the Homeownership Hero award was presented to Rep. LaFalce by the Homeownership Alliance to recognize his outstanding contribution to the expansion of homeownership opportunities for all Americans.
2002-Financial Services Roundtable--Rep, LaFalce was honored by the Financial Services Roundtable with its "American Financial Leadership Award" for his superb leadership..,in reforming the financial services industry which is so vital to the economy of our state and nation,
2000-National Association of Federal Credit Unions--A special career recognition award was given to Rep. LaFalce by the National Association of Federal Credit Unions "for being a champion for federal credit unions and their members for more than twenty-five years."
2002-0xfam International & Bread for the World--For his successful humanitarian work in Congress on behalf of debt relief for the world's poor. Rep. LaFalce was honored by Oxfam International and Bread for the World, two global anti- poverty organizations, "for helping break the cycle of poverty.
1999- National Association of Realtors--Rep, LaFalce was awarded the National Association of Realtors' Legislative Leadership Award in the 106th Congress "In appreciation for his outstanding leadership in supporting legislation to help families achieve the American dream of homeownership.
Center for Health, Environment and Justice--On the 20th anniversary of the Love Canal crisis in his district, Rep, LaFalce was honored "for his significant role in assisting residents to obtain justice and for his "tireless efforts to move various agencies at all levels of government that was above and beyond the call of duty."
1998-New York Credit Union--Rep. LaFalce was awarded the "Freedom of Consumer Choice Award by the New York Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice "for actively defending the rights of consumers to choose their financial institutions and for protecting the future of America's credit unions."
1998 Small Business Council of America--In recognition of his work as Chairman of the Small Business Committee, where he wrote laws creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the small business sector, Rep, LaFalce received the Congressional Award from the Small Business Council of America, which read in part: "when others trample asunder the rights and best interests of small business, he steps forward and moves mountains."
Associated General Contractors (NY State Chapter)--In 1975, Rep. LaFalce had the distinction of being the first of the newly-elected Members to have a bill he authored signed into law, That bill preserved and created more than one-million construction jobs--300,000 in New York State alone. For his work, the New York State Chapter of the Associated General Contractors honored Rep, LaFalce with its annual "Man of the Year" award.
American Diabetes Association--As Chairman and Vice- Chairman of the House Diabetes Caucus, Rep, LaFalce was honored twice by the American Diabetes Association with its Valor Award in recognition of his continuing efforts to secure increased funding for diabetes research and "for his outstanding service to people with diabetes."
2000-2002 National Multiple Sclerosis Society--Rep. LaFalce was honored as "Congressman of the Year" by the National MS Society for his "deep personal appreciation and commitment to the needs of people with MS."
1995-National Sleep Foundation--The National Sleep Foundation awarded Rep, LaFalce its very first Public Policy Leadership Award in 2001 for his efforts in bringing the problem of sleep disorders to the nation's attention. He secured $125,000 in federal funds for a sleep disorder educational program to be conducted jointly by the University at Buffalo Medical School, Mount St Mary's Hospital Sleep Disorder Center in Lewiston, and Millard Fillmore-Gates Hospital's Sleep Disorder Center in Buffalo.
National Association of Women Business Owners--Rep, LaFalce received the "Congressional Advocate of the Year award from the National Association of Women Business Owners for his work in enacting the Women's Business Ownership Act, which expanded federal assistance programs to businesses owned by women.
New York State Association of Renewal and Housing Officials, Inc.--Rep, LaFalce was recognized by the NYSARHO "for his outstanding contributions to national housing and community development programs while serving as a member of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development and in appreciation for his cooperation with the committees, officers, and members of this Association. New York State Realtors--Rep. LaFalce was honored by the New York Realtors for his consistent contributions to the development of the community by participation in civic affairs and by leadership and dedication to making America better. Housing Agencies of New York State--Rep, LaFalce received the New York state Housing Agencies' Housing award "in recognition of and appreciation of your continued support of those programs which provide housing opportunities for low and moderate income people in the United States.