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Joe Pitts
Joe Pitts, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Member of the United States House of Representatives

Assumed office
January 3, 1997
Preceded by Robert Smith Walker
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
January 2, 1973 – November 30, 1996
Preceded by Benjamin J. Reynolds
Succeeded by L. Chris Ross
Personal details
Born October 10, 1939(1939-10-10) (age 80)
Lexington, Kentucky
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Virginia Pitts (née Pratt; 1968-present)
Residence Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Asbury University, West Chester University
Occupation Teacher
Religion Evangelicalism
Military service
Service/branch Flag of the United States Air Force.png United States Air Force
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Air Medal

Joseph R. "Joe" Pitts (born October 10, 1939) is the United States House of Representatives for Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district, serving since 1997. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Lancaster and Reading and includes much of Amish country. It also includes the far southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia in Chester County.

Early life, education, and early political careerEdit

Pitts was born in Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Asbury College. Pitts served five and a half years in the United States Air Force, with three tours in Vietnam. Initially commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he was promoted to Captain by the time he left the service. He graduated second in his class from Navigator School, after which he was trained as an Electronic Warfare officer. As an EW officer, he served on B-52 Stratofortresss out of Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, with payloads of nuclear bombs. In all, he completed 116 combat missions in the Vietnam War and earned an Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.

After leaving the Air Force in 1969, Pitts moved to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia and the hometown of his wife, Ginny. They built a house there, where they still live today.

Pitts was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1972, representing Kennett Square and surrounding areas of Chester County.

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

US Navy 080103-N-1938G-002 ennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts visits with members of the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq

Joe Pitts


After 10-term Republican congressman Bob Walker decided to retire in 1996, Pitts decided to run. He won the five-candidate Republican primary field with 45% of the vote, defeating the second place candidate by 19 percentage points.[1] In the general election, he defeated Democrat James G. Blaine 59%-38%.[2] He won re-election easily in 1998 (71%), 2000 (67%), 2002 (88%), and 2004 (64%).


Pitts originally promised to serve only 10 years (five terms), but announced he would run again in 2006 amid considerable controversy. Despite the controversy, Pitts' won re-election to a sixth term, defeating Democrat businesswoman Lois Herr 57%-40%. The seventeen-point margin was the second smallest margin in his career.[3]


In 2008, Pitts decided to seek a seventh term. He was challenged by Navy veteran and construction contractor Bruce Slater. Pitts defeated him 56%-39%. The sixteen-point margin was the smallest margin in his career.[4]


Pitts was challenged by Democrat Lois Herr for a third rematch. He won re-election to an 8th term, defeating her 65%-35%.[5]


Pitts was challenged by Democrat businesswoman Aryanna Strader[6] and Independent Jim Bednarski[7] In the general election, Pitts won re-election to a ninth term, defeating Strader 55%-39%. The sixteen-point margin is tied for 2008 in being the smallest margin in his career. He lost in Berks County by 12,000 votes (35%) and won Chester County by only 500 votes (1%). He won Lancaster handily with over 60% of the vote.[8][9]


Joe Pitts, official photo portrait, color

Early portrait of Joe Pitts

Pitts has a very conservative voting record, which is not surprising given that his district has historically been one of the most Republican districts in the Northeast with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+8. He received 100% ratings from the American Conservative Union in 2005 and the Christian Coalition of America in 2004.[10]

In 2002 Pitts was angered after a federal judge ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Chester County courthouse, releasing a press statement that said, "I think that religion and the Ten Commandments in particular should have a role in our public life" and supported The Ten Commandments Defense Act (H.R. 2045).[10] Since his first term Pitts has been chairman of the Values Action Team, a subgroup of the Republican Study Committee that coordinates legislation with the Christian right.[11]

Over the years Pitts has received 100% ratings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 0% ratings from Public Citizens Congress Watch. In 2008 the ACLU gave him an 18% rating, the Human Rights Campaign gave him a score of 0%, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights gave him a score of 4%. In 2007-08 the John Birch Society gave him a score of 67%, and the American Conservative Union gave him a 100% rating, as did the Christian Coalition. Others: American Association of University Women, 2007-8, 16%; Republicans for Environmental Protection, 7% in 2007; and the Children's Health Fund, 2007-8, 0%; National Rifle Association, 2008, A; Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 2003, 0%; National Breast Cancer Coalition, 2007-8, 0%; Children's Health Fund 2007-8, 0%. Ratings from labor groups are consistently at or near 0%; the Alliance for Worker Freedom, 2008, 100%.[12]

Pitts visited Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban and Pakistan in 2002. He visited Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel in 2008 as part of a Congressional Delegation.[13] He is a leading congressional advocate of nuclear power, and "introduced a bill in 2009 to fast-track the regulatory process for approving new reactors, he called it the 'Streamline America's Future Energy (SAFE) Nuclear Act.'"[14]

Pitts is an advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Bob Goodlatte-Jim Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act[15] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[16]

The Stupak–Pitts Amendment is an amendment to America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 written by Pitts and Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, and it inserted abortion into the national health overhaul debate. This amendment continues his longtime opposition to abortion. According to Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor for Harper's, Pitts is a documented member of the Bible-oriented Christian group "The Fellowship (Christian organization)" and the C Street group in Washington, D.C.

In the 112th Congress, Pitts introduced the Protect Life Act, which would place additional restrictions on abortion access.

In July 2011, Pitts was revealed, in course of an FBI investigation, to have accepted tainted funds traced to the intelligence services of Pakistan.[17] These funds, were routed through the so-called Kashmiri American Council (KAC), run by Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was convicted of several felonies by the Federal government. Pitts later donated these funds to charity.

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Electoral historyEdit

Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district: Results 1996-2012[20]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Third Party Votes Pct Third Party Votes Pct
1996 James Blaine 78,598 37.5% Joe Pitts 124,511 59.4% Bob Yorczyk 6,485 3.09%
1998 Bob Yorczyk 40,092 29% Joe Pitts 95,979 71%
2000 Bob Yorczyk 80,177 33.1% Joe Pitts 162,403 67.0%
2002 Joe Pitts 119,046 88.5% Will Todd 8,720 6.5% Kenneth Brenneman 6,766 5.0%
2004 Lois Herr 98,410 34.5% Joe Pitts 183,620 64.4% William Hagen 3,269 1.25
2006 Lois Herr 80,915 39.6% Joe Pitts 115,741 56.6% John Murphy 7,958 3.9%
2008 Bruce Slater 120,193 39.4% Joe Pitts 170,329 55.8% John Murphy 11,768 3.9% Daniel Frank 2,877 0.9%
2010 Lois Herr 70,994 34.6% Joe Pitts 134,113 65.4%
2012 Aryanna Strader 111,185 38.9% Joe Pitts 156,192 55% John Murphy 12,250 4.3% James Bednarski 5,154 1.8%


  6. "Strader for Congress". Strader for Congress. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  7. "Jim Bednarski for Congress, 16 District, PA". Jim Bednarski For Congress. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  8. "Pennsylvania U.S. House District Race". Elections & Politics from Time Inc.. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Retrieved January 28, 2010
  11. "Election 08 Results by District". Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved 2009-06-09
  12. Retrieved January 28, 2010 Ratings by issue for Rep.Pitts
  13. Pitts' visits to the Middle East
  14. Elliott, Justin (2011-03-13) Crisis casts doubt on nuke industry P.R. campaign,
  15. Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4411
  16. Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4777
  18. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans - Full Committee Membership
  19. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans - Subcommittees
  20. Election Statistics

External linksEdit

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert Smith Walker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district

Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Pascrell
D-New Jersey
List of current members of the United States House of Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Loretta Sanchez
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Benjamin J. Reynolds
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 158th district
Succeeded by
L. Chris Ross

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