The NYU Washington, DC alumni community and the Office of Government and Community Affairs held a holiday reception honoring alum Representative Rush Holt (PhD '81) for his dedicated career to public service. Congressman Holt, who retired in 2014 from Congress, had assumed office in 1999, and has been a strong voice for his constituents and the nation.
Throughout his career, he has helped to develop a long-term strategy to decrease the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and to protect the environment for future generations. He has also worked to strengthen oversight of the intelligence community by ensuring that policymakers receive accurate assessments, civil liberties are safeguarded, and the intelligence community is protecting Americans.
Congressman Holt has been a leading national voice on how scientific research can lead to increased innovation and a growing economy.
Rep. Holt is a resident of Hopewell Township, N.J. Born in West Virginia, he inherited his interest in politics from his parents. His father was the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate, at age 29. His mother served as Secretary of State of West Virginia and was the first woman to hold that position.
Rep. Holt earned his B.A. in Physics from Carleton College in Minnesota and completed his Master's and Ph.D. at New York University. He has held positions as a teacher, Congressional Science Fellow, and arms control expert at the U.S. State Department where he monitored the nuclear programs of countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union. From 1989 until he launched his 1998 congressional campaign, Holt was Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the largest research facility of Princeton University and the largest center for research in alternative energy in New Jersey. He has conducted extensive research on alternative energy and has his own patent for a solar energy device. Holt was also a five-time winner of the game show "Jeopardy." In February 2011, Holt beat Watson, IBM's computer system in a simulated round of Jeopardy at an event to promote innovation.
He was a strong voice for his constituents, and served on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he was the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources having helped to develop a long-term strategy to decrease our nation's dependence on fossil fuels and protect our environment for future generations. From 2007 to 2010, Holt was the Chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel. Created at the start of the 110th Congress in January 2007, the Panel worked to strengthen oversight of the intelligence community by ensuring that policymakers receive accurate assessments, civil liberties are safeguarded, and the intelligence community is protecting Americans.
Holt was honored to serve on the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century chaired by former Senator and astronaut John Glenn. He is co-chair of the Research and Development Caucus, and sits on Congressional caucuses concerning Children's Environmental Health, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Biomedical Research, Internet, Community College, Farmland Protection, Human Rights, and women's right to choose. Rep. Holt is also a member of the New Democrat Coalition and a member and Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. Additionally, Holt is a member of the House Democracy Partnership, which is comprised of 20 Members who help promote and support the development of democratic governments around the world.
Rep. Holt has won several significant victories in Washington. He helped secure more than $22 billion in new federal funding for science and technology research. He passed an amendment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund providing millions in funding for protecting open space and he was instrumental in adding the lower Delaware River to the National Wild and Scenic River program. He has led the effort to increase rail/transit security funding, most recently succeeding in doubling federal funding to $400 million in 2008. As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Holt helped write the College Cost Reduction Act – the largest college aid expansion since the GI Bill – which cuts student loan interest rates in half, increases individual Pell Grant amounts by $1,090 over five years, and forgives loans for graduates who provide 10 years of public service. The bill also includes Holt's provision to provide upfront tuition assistance – up to $16,000 – for math, science and foreign language teachers, supporting Holt's effort to strengthen such education in the U.S.
Rep. Holt has worked to ensure that Central New Jersey residents receive a return investment for their tax dollars. In the Fiscal Year 2008 budget, Holt secured $26.8 million in new federal funding for communications and intelligence programs and activities at Fort Monmouth. In the same budget, he secured $735,000 for a redevelopment project along Route 29 in Trenton, $150,000 in federal funding for Delaware Township to build a multi-use community center, and $117,500 for new equipment for South River first responders. He also has secured $1.6 million to repair Route 1 in Middlesex County. In his time in office, Holt has helped secure more than a hundred million dollars to improve roads, reduce flood damage, build libraries, and protect historic sites in the five counties he represents. In July 2008, President Bush signed into law housing legislation that includes a property tax relief initiative that Rep. Holt proposed. The Holt property tax deduction benefits homeowners who do not itemize on their Federal tax returns.
Throughout New Jersey's 12th district, Rep. Holt has developed a reputation as a tireless advocate for his constituents. He has assisted over 21,000 constituents who have contacted his office with inquiries, producing resolutions for problems ranging from Medicare to veterans' healthcare to immigration. He started and facilitates the Einstein's Alley initiative, which seeks to expand and maintain the area's job base by attracting and supporting innovative companies. He also has made hundreds of school visits and held dozens of town meetings and forums on topics such as the War in Iraq, Social Security, Alternative Energy, Economic Growth, Prescription Drugs, Student Aid, Privacy, Long-Term Care, and Sprawl.
Rep. Holt has received numerous awards and citations for his work, including the Planned Parenthood Community Service Award, the Biotech Legislator of the Year, and the Science Coalition's Champion of Science award. The magazine Scientific-American has also named Holt one of the 50 national "visionaries" contributing to "a brighter technological future." He is also one of only two Members of Congress to receive a lifetime 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. He also has received perfect ratings in the current Congress from the Children's Defense Fund, the Drum Major Institute, the American Public Health Association, the Council for a Liveable World, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, AFSCME, the Allience for Retired Americans, ACLU, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Rep. Holt is married to Margaret Lancefield, a physician affiliated with the charity care clinic at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. They have three grown children, Michael, Dejan and Rachel, and seven grandchildren, Niala, Noah, Boaz, Varun, Rohan, Cecile, and Joshua.