Given that position, even as a member of the minority party, Pallone said “To me it’s all new in a sense.” With his seniority and working with his fellow committee members – both Democrats and Republicans – he believes “I’ve been able to accomplish more than I’ve ever been able to.”The congressman ticked off a series of legislation that had cleared the committee, some of which are on their way to the Oval Office or at least onto the House floor for further consideration.He pointed to the recently approved bill package addressing the national opiate epidemic, the president is expected to sign into law. A group of bills providing additional access to mental health treatment and services has recently cleared his committee.A big step forward was the recent House-approved revamped Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), offering tighter toxic chemical regulation. “It’s been 14 years we’ve been trying to get that done,” he said.These examples of work done goes to another point Pallone made about the House of Representatives. The public perception that partisan gridlock has gotten so severe that nothing is getting accomplished in the Halls of Congress. “That’s just not true,” he insisted.“I constantly try to debunk that,” maintaining that with the legislative branch controlled by one party and the executive branch by the other, compromise and cooperation is governmental life’s blood, approaching that middle ground for some matters. “To be honest there is a political side to this as well,” he acknowledged, suspecting it is in the Republican leadership’s advantage to work with the loyal opposition, given the criticism congressional Republicans have gotten for being obstructionist.Pallone said he had worked very hard, working with Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy to secure federal emergency funding over the opposition of some western and southern Republican lawmakers. But Pallone acknowledged, regrettably, there are still too many still recovering. “I’ve been very critical of both the state and federal bureaucracy,” and said now “It has to be addressed on a one-to-one basis,” relying on strong constituent ser vices from his office to help the victims.He’s been working on obtaining additional federal funds for Super Fund and brown field contaminated sites, which he believes will be of a particular benefit to New Jersey areas. That legislation, however, isn’t likely to advance this term and will need to be taken up again next January – should he continue to hold his seat.Looking back over his career, he takes pride on two accomplishments. Long very active on the environmental front, Pallone points to his work on ending the practice of ocean trash dumping. When he first took office there were about 12 permitted sites off of Jersey Shore, all of which have been closed.The other is his work on drafting and campaigning for the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Pallone was a major architect on that defining – and highly controversial – law.“The goal was really to try to get as close as possible toward universal coverage” for health care for Americans, he said. It may not have reached that level, but it has had a profound effect for so many citizens, he stressed, and actually components are exceedingly popular for Americans – allowing children to remain on parents’ plans until they’re 26; prohibiting insurance providers to deny on the basis of preexisting conditions; expanding Medicaid coverage for many more citizens; the federal subsidies for those below an income threshold. “No question it has become part of the fabric of the health care system,” he said.“I have to say I still enjoy it,” he said, hoping to win reelection because, “I do think I can still make a difference.” By John BurtonAFTER NEARLY THREE decades in the U.S. House of Representatives, Frank Pallone still feels the passion that first inspired him to run.“I guess I just still feel that government can make a difference,” said Pallone, a Democrat, as he seeks reelection for the 6th Congressional District, which represents much of Monmouth County and portions of Middlesex. “And I like to think I’m an important part of that.“If I didn’t feel the passion I wouldn’t continue to do it,” he said. Besides, he added, “There’s a lot to do.”Pallone, 64, a Long Branch native, has served in the House since 1988, replacing long-serving Democrat James Howard who died in March of that year.In his most recent two-year term in Washington, Pallone became the senior ranking Democratic member of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, an influential committee that addresses among other things, health, environmental and energy issues – all areas of passion for Pallone during his legislative tenure.