Bob Menendez grew up the son of immigrants in a tenement building in Union City. A product of New Jersey's public schools and a graduate of the state's universities, he has served as a school board member, a mayor and a state legislator. Since 1992, he has been fighting for New Jersey families in Washington, where he rose to become the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives before taking office in the Senate in 2006.
In Congress, he has fought to make health care more affordable for New Jersey's families and to improve schools so they prepare our children for a successful future. Now he is fighting to make college more affordable for the next generation of leaders. After September 11, 2001, Bob earned national recognition for his leadership in reforming the country's intelligence and public health systems and for fighting to establish an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks on our country. Today, he is working to improve the security of our bus, rail and public transit systems.
Elected by his colleagues in 2002 as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Bob Menendez became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congressional history. He previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and has led key Task Forces on Education and Homeland Security. After being appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Bob was sworn in to the Senate on January 18, 2006. In November of that year, New Jerseyans elected Bob to serve a full six-year term as United States Senator. He currently serves on the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Budget; and Foreign Relations. Bob is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection.
Question: What inspires you?
Robert Menendez: I’m inspired by a couple of things. I’m inspired by people I see – whether it’s in my home state of New Jersey and people I’ve met across the country – who do remarkable things against overwhelming odds . . . ordinary people who are called upon to do extraordinary things. And if they can do that considering maybe their station in life and the challenges they face, and yet they do extraordinary things for people who are . . . who might be considered ordinary people, then from my privileged position of being a United States Senator, I have every obligation in the world to do that and much more. So I’m inspired by the stories of people I meet at home and across the country. And I’m inspired by people I meet across the world as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the great challenges they face in the own countries in promoting democracy and promoting human rights. And I’m also inspired by the fact that . . . My view is that one is obligated to . . . It’s a personal philosophy. One is obligated to make this world better than how they inherited it. And so that’s what drives me every day – the inspiration that I take from people, and the view that I have as a personal philosophy as to why I seek to be a United States Senator in the first place.