Jerry Costello (D-IL-12)i

Congressman Jerry Costello

House links: Jerry Costello (D-IL-12)i


Jerry Costello announced retirement October 2011.


Biography of Jerry Costello from


Born: September 25, 1949, East Saint Louis, Illinois.

Education: Assumption High School, East Saint Louis, Illinois, 1968;
Southwestern Illinois College, Associates Degree, 1971
Maryville University, B.A., 1973.

Maryville University, Honorary Doctorate of Laws, 1989
McKendree University, Honorary Doctorate of Laws, 2009

Occupation: Law Enforcement, Local Government.

Family: Wife, Dr. Georgia Cockrum Costello; three children: Jerry II (Lori), Gina, and John Patrick (Lindsay); eight grandchildren: John “Jay” Sinovic, Austin, Rorey and Ireland Keen, Jerry III, Victoria, and Georgia Danielle Costello, and John Patrick Costello, Jr.; all residing in the Belleville area.

Religion: Roman Catholic.

Took Office: August 9, 1988, to fill term of late U.S. Representative Melvin Price; started serving full term November 8, 1988.

Leadership in Illinois:
Jerry Costello is recognized as a Congressman who works hard and gets the job done. When he served in local public office, Costello laid out a vision for Southwestern and Southern Illinois which he took to Congress: To boost the local economy by building a new transportation network for the region. That is one of the reasons why the respected Almanac of American Politics has said that Costello is “as practical and district-minded as any Member of the House…If it can be done, Costello will surely do it.”

Costello began his career shortly after his graduation from high school, working full time as a law enforcement officer while attending college. After graduating from Maryville University, Costello became recognized throughout the state for his creativity and ability in administering the region’s court services system. In 1980, he was elected Chairman of the St. Clair County Board, chief executive for one of Illinois’ largest counties. He took that experience to Congress in August of 1988.

Unlike some Members of Congress who get elected and move their families to the East Coast, Jerry Costello’s family has remained in Illinois. Costello comes home every weekend and holds numerous civic meetings, public forums and media events throughout the 12th Congressional District when Congress is not in session. His wife, Georgia, is the President of Southwestern Illinois College. Her extensive career in education has included positions as a teacher, school principal and Assistant Superintendent of the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education. She has also remained active in volunteer organizations and community affairs.

Leadership in Congress:
Costello’s tenure in the House has been characterized by his results-oriented, bipartisan approach to issues. As a senior Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the second ranking Democrat on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Costello has had a major role in writing several major pieces of legislation while focusing on improving the transportation infrastructure of our nation and his district and the research and development of clean coal technologies, which is critical to reinvigorating Illinois’ coal industry.

Examples of his effectiveness include helping to write two national highway bills, securing $150 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in the last highway bill – one of the largest single earmarks in the legislation – and the passage of the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009. This legislation, the strongest aviation safety bill in over 50 years, enhances airline safety by significantly increasing the flight hours required for commercial first officers and strengthening pilot training.

Costello recently completed his fourth year as Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee and now serves as the senior Democrat on the subcommittee. In 2007, he wrote and helped pass a $68 billion bill in the House to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that our aviation transportation system remains the best and safest in the world. He reintroduced the legislation in 2009 when it again passed the House. He is also a member of the Railroad Subcommittee and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.

Costello has continually stood up for the constituents of the 12th Congressional District by casting tough votes on important issues. Costello supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and from his seat on the Budget Committee, helped pass key deficit reduction legislation in 1993 and 1997 that resulted in the first balanced budget in a generation. He was one of only a few Members who opposed the Clean Air Act in 1991, which was grossly unfair to the Midwest and devastated the coal industry in Southern Illinois and he voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Cap & Trade) because he felt it would drastically increase utility costs and did not provide for adequate use of coal. He has also supported working men and women and their families by opposing trade deals that make it easier to send good-paying American jobs overseas and fighting for the right to collectively bargain and workplace safety. When the United States and the rest of the world faced the most serious financial difficulties since the Great Depression, Costello supported measures that would help put Americans back to work but he voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) because he felt the legislation asked too much from taxpayers and not enough from Wall Street.

Costello has been recognized as “the patron saint of Scott Air Force Base” and is credited with saving Scott during rounds of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process from 1995 –2005. Scott AFB is the largest employer in Illinois south of Springfield and the fourth largest in the St. Louis region. Home to TRANSCOM and the Air Mobility Command, Costello has led a two decade local effort to continually improve the base and keep it off of the base closure list through several rounds of BRAC. While working to keep Scott open, Costello has brought the 126th Airlift Wing to Scott from Chicago, improved base facilities and housing, and secured funding to maintain the C9 aircraft and purchase new C40 aircraft to replace the C9s. These efforts culminated in the last BRAC round in 2005, where not only did Scott remain open, but it added 800 jobs and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. Visiting Scott in 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proclaimed Scott was one of the country’s three most important Air Force bases.


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