BioJim Gerlach grew up in the small western Pennsylvania steel town of Ellwood City, Lawrence County, just north of Pittsburgh. At the age of five, his father was tragically killed by a drunk driver, leaving behind Jim, his mother and two sisters. Together, with the love and support of his family, Jim learned first-hand how a community can rally behind others and help those in need with a hand-up, not a hand-out. Thanks to his mom's hard work, financial aid and a part-time job, Jim attended and graduated from Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law.
Jim served in the State House of Representatives and State Senate before being elected to Congress in 2002 from Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, representing parts of Berks, Chester, Lehigh and Montgomery Counties.
In Congress, Jim serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee – the chief tax-writing committee as set forth in the Constitution, as well as its subcommittee on Health- putting him on the front lines working to repeal ObamaCare and reforming the nation's tax code.
Over the years, Jim has been labeled one of the most independent Republicans in Washington, and works hard every day for the taxpayers, families and seniors of his district. Dubbed a "thoughtful lawmaker" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jim's priorities have included making the Republican tax cuts permanent - which save Pennsylvania taxpayers on average over $2,000 per year. In 2003, Jim was the sponsor of much needed Marriage Penalty relief signed into law by President Bush.
In 2009, Gerlach called for immediate tax relief for individuals and businesses to spur job growth in the wake of the worst recession in decades. Despite his opposition to the Obama/Pelosi "stimulus" package which failed to curb unemployment or create jobs, Jim recognized the need to protect future generations of taxpayers from wasteful spending, by calling for an independent oversight commission to monitor $17 billion in stimulus funds coming to Pennsylvania. That panel was enacted by Governor Rendell soon after.
Jim voted against government-run health care, and instead has offered measures to increase access to affordable health care through market-based reforms, including small business purchasing pools to reduce health care premiums for workers, opening up insurance markets across state lines, and medical malpractice reform.
To break America's dependence on foreign oil, Jim has supported an "all of the above" approach to cultivating our own domestic energy resources. By utilizing our nation's vast and abundant resources like natural gas, coal and oil, combined with many new and emerging alternative energies, Jim believes we will create good-paying jobs and will help achieve energy independence.
Jim Gerlach has been named a Legislator-Leader by the National Manufacturers Association for helping to keep good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania, Federal Legislator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, repeatedly honored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for supporting small businesses and local jobs, and has earned numerous health care awards from groups like the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Jim has also been honored by veterans groups for writing the law establishing a new national veteran's cemetery in southeast Pennsylvania and his long established record in support of our nation's veterans.
Additionally, for years, Jim has been a leading advocate in Congress for protecting open space and preserving farmland, and is the founder of the House Land Conservation Caucus. He has also repeatedly received strong ratings and the endorsement of the Humane Society for his work against animal cruelty.
Jim helped streamline government bureaucracy and promote efficiency as a member of the IMPACCT Commission, as Vice Chairman of Governor Tom Ridge's PRIME Council and as a state legislator - saving taxpayers well over $500 million in government waste. He was the prime sponsor of the 1996 landmark welfare reform legislation that moved nearly 200,000 from government dependency to work, and Jim's historic land use legislation provided local officials the tools needed to combat suburban sprawl and promote smart growth. For his proven service to taxpayers, Jim was repeatedly named a "Taxpayer Hero."