Brian J. Donnelly
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Brian J. Donnelly

Brian J. Donnelly
Brian J. Donnelly.jpg
United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago

PresidentBill Clinton
Sally G. Cowal
Edward E. Shumaker III
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 11th district

January 3, 1979 - January 3, 1993
James A. Burke
District eliminated
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives

Alfred E. Saggese Jr.
Personal details
Born (1946-03-02) March 2, 1946 (age 73)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political partyDemocratic

Brian Joseph Donnelly (born March 2, 1946, Boston) is a former ambassador and U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, serving from 1979 to 1993. He is a Democrat.

Donnelly attended private schools in Suffolk County. He graduated from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, in 1963. He received a Bachelor of Science from Boston University in 1970. He was a teacher and coach in the Boston public schools. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1973-1978, where he served as assistant majority leader in 1977-1978.

Donnelly was elected as a Democrat to the 96th and to the six succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979 - January 3, 1993), but was not a candidate for renomination in 1992 to the 103rd Congress. While in Congress, Donnelly served on the Committee on Public Works and Transportation and, beginning in 1985, on the Committee on Ways and Means.

During his tenure in Congress, Donnelly authored, along with Congressman Bill Archer of Texas, legislation to repeal the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-360) after the law became politically unsustainable.[1] The law's political unsustainability reached its peak when the chairman of the committee that drafted the law was chased from his district office by angry senior citizens protesting it.[2] The enactment of the Donnelly legislation restored the Medicare program to its pre-1988 status.

Donnelly's second major accomplishment in Congress was the enactment of the so-called "Donnelly Visa" program, which authorized 5,000 visas annually for citizens of countries that had been historically under-represented in the United States' immigration system that primarily relies on family reunification. The primary beneficiaries of the Donnelly Visa program, in its early years, were Irish nationals - many of whose families lived in Donnelly's South Boston district. Congress reauthorized the program in 1990; today, it is known as the Diversity Visa (DV) program and authorizes 50,000 visas annually to nationals of countries statistically deemed under-represented in the current immigration system. Donnelly's original intent was for the program to benefit Irish nationals but the reach of the program is far broader today.[3]

As a Knight of Columbus, he helped defeat an effort to tax fraternal insurance companies which would have diminished their ability to make charitable contributions.[4][5]

In 1994, he was named United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.[6] He served in this capacity until 1997.[7] In 1998, he ran for Governor of Massachusetts, finishing third in the Democratic primary behind state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and former state Senator Patricia McGovern.[8]


  1. ^ Rich, Spencer (October 5, 1989). "HOUSE VOTES TO REPEAL HEALTH PLAN". Retrieved 2017 – via
  2. ^ "Dan Rostenkowski: Classic Chicago Pol and Bipartisan Figure". August 11, 2010. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "Diversity Visa Lottery: Inside the Program That Admitted a Terror Suspect". Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Lapomarda 1992, p. 129.
  5. ^ Franklin, James L.; Vaillancourt, Meg; Wen, Patricia (April 3, 1995). "Fraternal Group Uses Clout to Safeguard Its Interests". The Boston Globe.
  6. ^ "President Clinton Names Donnelly Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago". Retrieved 2006.
  7. ^ "State Dept, Ambassadors to Trinidad and Tobago". Retrieved 2006.
  8. ^ "Massachusetts primary results". CNN. September 15, 1998. Retrieved 2006.

Works cited

  • Lapomarda, S.J., Vincent A. (1992). The Knights of Columbus in Massachusetts (second ed.). Norwood, Massachusetts: Knights of Columbus Massachusetts State Council.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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