Birthdate: Feb. 14, 1949
Birth Place: Worcester, MA, United States
Residence: Springfield, MA
First Elected: 1988
District: District 1
Richard Neal was born in Worcester, Mass., and raised in Springfield where he still resides. He earned a bachelor's in political science in 1972 from American International College and a master's in public administration in 1976 from the University of Hartford.
He was an aide to the mayor of Springfield in 1973 and was elected to the Springfield City Council in 1978. He became mayor in 1984.
Neal was elected to the U.S. House in 1988.
He and his wife, Maureen, have four children.
Richard Neal has slowly but inexorably risen to a position of influence on the House Ways and Means Committee. But Neal keeps a relatively low profile among the Massachusetts congressional delegation. He mostly tends to tax legislation and parochial needs.
Neal co-sponsored a bill in December 2009 seeking to legalize undocumented immigrants by requiring adults to pay a $500 fine, learn English, register with the federal government, pass background checks and meet other requirements.
Neal also has pressed for wider broadband Internet access in western Massachusetts and supported legislation in 2011 to reduce the excise tax for small breweries from $7 to $3.50 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels of beer produced each year. In July 2012, Neal also helped announced federal funding for local projects including $17 million for the renovation of Springfield's Union Station.
He played a role in helping British and Irish politicians reach a peace accord in Ireland that offers the strife-ridden North its best hope for peace since conflict engulfed the region in 1969. Neal's interest in Irish issues is rooted in his heritage, as well as in his Irish-American constituency. Two of his grandparents came from the Protestant-ruled North and the other two from the southern Irish Republic, where Catholics are the overwhelming majority.
Neal has opposed abortion and the death penalty, but he believes states should retain the option of imposing the death penalty.
He has advocated for legislation to prevent U.S. companies from moving offshore to skirt U.S. taxes. He also has worked to make health care and tuition expenses tax deductible for middle class people.
Neal's home city of Springfield, Mass., attracted national attention when its mayor became the first in the country to import prescription drugs from Canada. Neal has supported allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and he joined others in the House in denouncing the federal government's effort to shut down the Canadian company supplying drugs to city workers in Springfield.
Source: Associated Press