Bonnie Watson Coleman is serving her fourth term in the United States House of Representatives, the continuation of a career in public service advocating for the needs of New Jersey families and the equitable treatment of all people. The first Black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress, Watson Coleman is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security, and serves as Vice Chair at Large of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Watson Coleman’s work in the House centers on her belief that, in the United States of America, there’s a floor below which we should never allow any child, any family, any person to fall. Knowing that millions struggle every day just to make ends meet from the first to the last of the month, her legislative work seeks to bridge the gap for these Americans, making sure that the richest nation in the world doesn’t allow millions to live below the poverty line; doesn’t allow vulnerable groups to suffer the fallout of environmental violations; doesn’t allow profit margins to define the standards or the motivations for incarceration; and doesn’t allow bias to push everyday needs like car insurance out of reach for working families. She’s introduced legislation aimed at solving issues like these, including:
- The Healthy MOM Act, which would allow women to enroll in, or change their health coverage if they become pregnant;
- the End For-Profit Prisons Act, which would prohibit the federal government from contracting with for-profit prison corporations;
- the SAFER Pipelines Act that would reform the gas pipeline approval process overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
- the Customer Non-Discrimination Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in “public accommodations,” such as schools, recreational facilities and retail stores
- The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, legislation to address the disparities in access, care and study of mental health issues among people of color;
- The Improving Diaper Affordability Act, to make the purchase of diapers tax-free;
- The Prohibiting Auto-Insurance Discrimination (PAID) Act, end the use of income, education levels, and other factors unrelated to driving history and ability in setting car insurance rates;
- The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2020, to establish a nationwide pilot program to test the outcomes of a federally funded income support program that keeps more American families from experiencing permanent financial fallout and lasting poverty from a single unexpected crisis.
Watson Coleman is the daughter of legendary state legislator John S. Watson, and her services in Congress continues a family legacy of public service, fighting for women, economically and socially disadvantaged populations, ad other vulnerable groups in our society. Prior to her election a Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly and shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. During her time as Majority Leader, Watson Coleman convened a year-long series of public hearings on reforms to prisoner re-entry programs while shepherding legislation through the Assembly that the New York Times called “a model for the rest of the nation,” on prisoner rehabilitation and release.
In 2016, Watson Coleman founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls alongside two of her colleagues, the first caucus aimed at bringing both the tremendous challenges and incredible successes of Black women to the fore in Congress’s policy debates. In addition to continuing to co-chair the Caucus on Black Women and Girls and the role she serves with the Progressive Caucus, Watson Coleman is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Watson Coleman is a graduate of Thomas Edison State College, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from the College of New Jersey, Rider University, and Stockton University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and co-chair of the Girl Scouts of America Capitol Hill Honorary Troop. She resides with her husband, William, in Ewing Township. The two are blessed to have three sons: William, Troy and Jared; and three grandchildren: William, Ashanee and Kamryn.
I firmly believe every American is entitled to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. To obtain the American Dream and to close the wealth inequality gap, Americans need to be paid a living wage. I have been a lead advocate for the “Raise the Wage” campaign to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey, and I am committed to helping every American provide a decent life for their families. Recently, New Jersey legislators came to an agreement to raise the states’ minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. Working and middle-class Americans deserve tax reforms that benefit them and assist them as they strive to improve their financial situations. That’s why I introduced the Earned Income Tax Credit Modernization Act to increase financial stability for caregivers and students pursuing higher education and advanced degrees. I have also sponsored the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act which assists in the recovery of stolen wages and wage theft and prevents wage and hour violations. This has been an issue that I’ve worked to address to help ensure financial stability and equity within work places.
Since the burst of the housing bubble, housing markets have been unstable and foreclosures rates have risen. Homeowners expect their homes to be long-term investments, and to use the equity generated to help with education, retirement, and other large expenses. The loss of a family’s home undermines the stability, health and economic vitality of neighborhoods. Foreclosures also result in abandonment and deterioration of property, which creates additional pressures on local governments and the federal government and depresses home values in the surrounding community. When I served in the New Jersey Legislature, I sponsored the New Jersey Stabilization Fund. These bills sought to shield homeowners from scams by foreclosure consultants and to generate funds to help with legal services costs faced by people in danger of losing their homes. I will continue to fight to create strong and healthy communities by helping Americans to stay in their homes.
Housing is a human right, and every unhoused American is a person whose country has failed them. As part of my fight for strong and healthy communities, I have cosponsored the Keep Your Home and Prevent Homelessness Act (H.R. 2292). This bill advocates for about $2 billion to be distributed to homeowners, renters, and individuals experiencing homelessness during the housing crisis. I have also put more efforts into affordable housing, cosponsoring the Affordable Housing and Area Media Income Fairness Act of 2022. This act is working to increase the supply of, and lower rents for, affordable housing and to assess calculations of area median income for purposes Federal low-income housing assistance, and for other purposes. This is all in efforts to ensure the equitable and accessible housing for all communities.
Modernizing our nation’s infrastructure and emphasizing innovation are critical to getting our economy back on track. Government investment in infrastructure projects, such as updating transit systems and bridges, would help create jobs for thousands of Americans. I am actively supporting the Gateway Project to increase rail capacity between New York and New Jersey because it will bring thousands of jobs to New Jersey and ease traffic for commuters. To further improve employment across the country post-pandemic, I have cosponsored the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (H.R. 7309). This gives more funding and expands programs revising workforce investments, vocational rehabilitation, employment, training, and literacy programs.
In addition to funding infrastructure, I support strongly investing in research and development. Spurring innovation in systems like healthcare, banking and telecommunications will incentivize the development of new technologies that could improve the lives of many Americans. To keep high-paying jobs in industries like trade and manufacturing in America, we must negotiate trade agreements that are fair to American workers and create tax codes that incentivize investment in our economy.
At the start of the 116th Congress, I was appointed to the Appropriations Committee to help set funding levels for federal departments, agencies, and programs. As the former Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee in the New Jersey General Assembly, I am honored to serve on this critical Committee. The decisions made in the Appropriations Committee are a direct representation of our national values. We put our values on display when we make decisions on where our resources go. What we find important becomes evident in the choice between purchasing more military equipment or adequately funding the EPA inspectors that ensure our communities have clean water and air, and whether we repair our roads and invest in infrastructure or pay for grants for oil and gas companies to find new ways to drill and damage our environment. In the 117th Congress, I will continue to fight for the values my constituents elected me to represent — the needs of working families, the protection of our environment, and policies that advance fair economic growth.
As a public servant, I am uniquely positioned to advocate for accessible, high-quality education for our nation’s children. I am committed to providing every child with the opportunity to go to school in an inclusive, safe, and engaging environment that encourages critical, independent thinking and prepares students for fulfilling professional careers. With Congressional support today, we can foster a positive, empowering education system for the future of our country.
For example, as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, I expressly requested and secured funding for the 2023 budget for a revitalization of the East Brunswick Public Library as a center of community and learning.
Furthermore, I am cognizant of the extent to which education enables economic mobility as well as personal and professional freedom. As a result, it is critical that all young scholars have access to opportunities that will allow them to accomplish their goals. In support of this belief, I have long championed accessibility by sponsoring and supporting legislation that uplifts at-risk children and families. For example, I’ve cosponsored the Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma (Ending PUSHOUT) Act (HR 2248), which seeks to end the punitive pushout of girls of color from schools and disrupt the school-to-confinement pathway.
It is for this reason that I have championed the fight against racial disparities in our education system affecting children’s experiences and their ability to immerse themselves completely in their school work and social lives. For example, I have been proud to sponsor the CROWN Act (H.R. 2116) as well as a resolution Acknowledging the racial disparities in diagnosing and treating mental health among youth in communities of color (H.Res. 480).
Quality education in the United States is one of our most fundamental rights. I will remain committed to removing systemic barriers to the enjoyment of this basic freedom as long as I remain in office.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Throughout my career, I’ve advocated strong protections for our environment. Whether it is fighting for clean air and water regulations, pushing for green energy innovation, protecting our wildlife and natural resources, or addressing the threat of climate change, fighting for our environment has been one of my top priorities.
I am a member of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC), whose mission is to advance policies that promote renewable energy and green collar jobs, protect our nation’s natural environment, and address global climate change. I cosponsored the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2022 (H.R.7439) to reduce American dependence on fossil fuels and protect Americans from volatile and expensive energy prices. This bill would invest in domestic clean energy production through the Defense Production Act and bolster renewable energy manufacturing through grants and benefits for taxpayers. These funded projects would additionally create green jobs protected by high labor standards. Access to affordable, clean energy is a right that all Americans deserve and one that I am committed to securing.
Climate change is a crisis that affects everyone, and its impacts have already changed the lives of millions of Americans. For this reason I introduced the Stay Cool Act (H.R. 7949), a package of proposals to address the increasing threat of extreme heat; the first to address surface temperatures. Heat threatens the quality of lives of all Americans, but the intensity and impact of heat on communities varies. Unfortunately, communities of color and low-income communities are at higher risk than their white, wealthier counterparts — often subject to urban heat islands and health complications that turn fatal. This bill will ensure that all Americans have access to heat-safe housing, and fund research to protect against and reverse the effects of climate change. Protecting the health of my constituents, and the most vulnerable in our society, is of the utmost importance to me and I will continue to fight for a livable and safe future for the next generation.
I have also co-sponsored a number of other environmental bills, including the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021) which would establish several environmental justice requirements and programs to address the disproportionate adverse human health or environmental effects of federal actions on communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and indigenous communities.. The League of Conservation Voters has given me a 97% lifetime rating.
Protecting the environment is in the best interests of New Jersey. Climate change will have a devastating impact on the residents of New Jersey and the numerous vital industries that make our state so important to the nation. Steps must be taken to protect our state’s ecosystems and ensure a clean and safe environment for future generations.
My core belief in equality is one of the reasons I decided to run for Congress. My belief that we all deserve a fair shot extends to every corner of our lives, including the belief that your income, social status, occupation or lack thereof should not determine your access to quality healthcare. I passionately believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I look forward to the day when every American, no matter their income, social status, or occupation, has access to quality and affordable healthcare. In the 116th Congress, I am a cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384) which would expand coverage to all Americans for medically necessary care including primary care, maternity care, hospital visits, and dental and vision care. Under this universal plan, medical devices, lab services, and prescription drugs would also be covered.
The United States spends more on healthcare per person than any other advanced nation in the world, yet millions of Americans still are unable to access medical care. Today, 12.2 percent of Americans do not have health insurance. They are unable to pay afford the outrageous premiums and deductibles charged by insurance companies and cannot afford any medical treatment, let alone the best or most advanced. A 2009 study found that every year, 45,000 Americans die as a result of lack of health insurance coverage.
Americans deserve a health care system in which those who need help are not forced to choose between life-saving healthcare or avoiding bankruptcy. Insurance companies should not be the ones to decide whether or not someone should receive the life-saving drugs or treatment.
Likewise, the need for access to care that is culturally competent is a sentiment that I prioritize. As the cofounder of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls - the first House Caucus dedicated to the study of policies related to the amplification and enrichment of women of color - I have worked diligently to be an advocate for these issues. Women especially have unique health care needs that require special focus and attention. The ability to have access to primary care and preventive services that are mindful of these needs is a necessity that I emphasize.
These are just few of the reasons why I authored the HEALTHY MOM ACT (H.R. 576). With this legislation women can enroll in or update their health coverage when they become pregnant. I believe legislation such as this helps to promote pertinent health practices that have a trickle-down effect on the family.
My recent health scare is a reminder that medical care should be priority. After my doctor found a small cancerous tumor on my lungs during a routine visit, I too shared the fear that many Americans face. I was blessed to have options that saved my life. If it wasn’t for the opportunity to receive comprehensive and quality medical services I could have suffered a wide range of more tragic outcomes. My journey has shown me that disease is no respecter of position, wealth, sex, or age. Sickness is not limited to any one group of people and neither should medical care.
Access should not be a privilege, it should be a right. We as Americans should have the right to live a healthy life that is not jeopardized by politics or partisanship. We must acknowledge that health is necessary to guarantee the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today I am a living representation of the benefits of quality health coverage. For me, this is more than just ideology, it is an experience that has had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of many of my constituents.
Ours is a nation of immigrants. One of the great symbols of our country, the Statue of Liberty, includes the Emma Lazarus poem which reads,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Our nation has welcomed immigrants because we recognize both the growth and promise they bring and the moral duty we have towards our fellow human beings.
These ideals were recognized in 2014 when then President Obama brought forth the DACA program to give legal status to immigrants brought here as children. These are Americans in every sense except on paper. They live in our communities, pray in our churches, work and pay taxes. Giving them the opportunity to attain legal status is only fair.
Unfortunately, President Trump has sought to end the DACA program without an alternative in place, putting the status of 700,000 people in limbo. DACA or an equivalent should be made a permanent program.
In regards to a border wall, I stand in opposition for several reasons. The first is that it simply will not make a significant difference in illegal migration. Experts have said our border security money would be better spent on personnel and technology such as sensors and drones to secure the southern border. As it stands, the border between the United States and Mexico is already among the most militarized in the world between peaceful nations. The proposed wall is nothing more than a symbol. A symbol of hate and fear. It does not measure up to the ideals of our country. We should strive for more.
JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS
I believe that as a nation founded on the premise of equality and democracy, our laws and our government should treat every American fairly regardless of their race, gender, socio-economic status, religion or any other quality. Unfortunately, those founding principles have not always been applied consistently to women, to people of color, to immigrants, and to many other groups. In order to protect our democracy, we need to ensure our laws, our justice system, and every part of our government offers equal rights and equal access to every American
Over 50 years ago, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to ensure that all Americans have access to the foundation of our democracy, the right to vote. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, has weakened these federal protections. I will work to ensure that Congress remains vigilant in protecting the hard-fought gains of the Civil Rights Movement that expand access to the ballot.
In the past several years, numerous states have passed laws to require identification at the polls and impose additional restrictions that make it more difficult to vote. Many of the new laws disproportionately affect low-income individuals, minorities, and young people. While protecting the integrity of elections is extremely important, there should be no restrictions that infringe on the fundamental right to vote. Instead of making voting more difficult, I am working to pass laws that make it easier for Americans to register to vote and to gain access to the ballot box.
A nation of immigrants, the United States is a melting pot of different cultures, experiences, and perspectives. Since the founding of this nation, people from across the world have come to the United States in search of opportunities and freedoms. I am working hard to support common sense immigration policies that support people seeking freedom, security, and access.
Voting in favor of H.R. 240, I supported the appropriation of resources towards sound immigration policy and supported President Obama’s efforts to grant amnesty to undocumented persons. Alongside this legislative effort, I voted against the Blackburn amendment of H.R. 240 which sought to defund the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a vital policy for protecting undocumented children from deportation.
Immigrants enrich the American landscape and strengthen the economy. I endorses legislation that supports immigrants as they pursue and proudly reflect, the American dream.
Criminal Justice/ Reentry
While the criminal justice system in the United States is among the strongest in the world, there are considerable reforms that need to be made. With over 700,000 people entering prisons each year and an additional 9 million Americans going through local jails, prisons are overcrowded, taxpayer dollars are infused into a system in which 67.8% of ex-convicts reenter prison within three years, and prisoners often do not receive the resources needed to ensure a smooth transition into society.
I have been at the forefront of the movement to bring about reforms within the criminal justice system. As the Majority Leader in the NJ State Assembly, I sponsored a legislative package that enables ex-convicts to enter the work force after completing their sentencing. The passage of the revolutionary piece of legislation has been hallmarked as a blueprint for legislative efforts concerning prison reentry. I will continue to work tirelessly to bring about reform in the criminal justice system and ensure that it promotes ex-convict rehabilitation, recidivism reduction, and the reduction of the amount of taxpayer dollars needed to support prisons.
Our great nation has evolved tremendously in ensuring that the rights of all Americans are protected, but the fact remains that the fight for a fair and just society continues. Pay disparities between men and women, racial disparities in access to a high-quality public education, alarmingly disproportionate rates of profiling youth of color, and well-needed mainstream reinforcements for people living with disabilities, are just a few issues that confirm our need for strong stances on civil rights.
Possessing the ability to create legislation, Congress plays a vital role in protecting and promoting the civil rights of all Americans- notably, for those whose civil rights are most vulnerable to infringement. I will use my position to advocate for all Americans including people of color, women, LGBT, people, people with disabilities, and any American whose civil rights warrant proactive legislative considerations. Representing the incredibly diverse 12th Congressional District, I am an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I am working to pass laws that promote fairness and equality in this nation.
Congresswoman Watson Coleman strongly believes that Congress must do more to guarantee equal rights to LGBT individuals. She is committed to fighting for marriage equality, strengthening anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, and combatting homophobia and transphobia both in the United States and around the world. For these reasons, she is a proud member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
The Constitution guarantees all Americans “equal protection of the laws.” Respect for this principle has guided Congresswoman Watson Coleman throughout her career. In the New Jersey Assembly, she voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage because no individual should be denied the right to marry because of their sexual orientation. In the same vein, she joined a group of 211 members of Congress in filing a brief with the Supreme Court in support of a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. While many states have joined New Jersey in recognizing same-sex marriage, it is essential that all states and the federal government grant same-sex couples the equal rights and dignity they deserve.
No American should lose a job or be denied access to a public facility because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Over the past 50 years, Congress has passed numerous laws to prevent discrimination against racial minorities and women. But currently, the law allows most states, stores, restaurants, and other public facilities to discriminate against the LGBT community. Congresswoman Watson Coleman believes this situation must be changed, offering the same protections that exist for other protected classes to LGBT individuals. For this reason, she is an original cosponsor of the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act, ensuring that no LGBT individual is denied a loan because of who they are. She will continue to work with her colleagues to expand these protections in other areas of law.
Many LGBT youth around the world face bullying and harassment in their daily life. Congresswoman Watson Coleman is committed to finding ways to combat this problem. She has cosponsored the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require colleges and universities to develop policies to fight harassment. Additionally, she is a cosponsor of a resolution supporting the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which recognizes the suffering so many LGBT individuals face around the world as a result of harassment and discrimination. She also has cosponsored the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would ban for-profit, so-called “conversion therapy,” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Congresswoman Watson Coleman voted in favor of New Jersey’s ban on this harmful practice and supports efforts in Congress to ensure that no child endures the abuse of trying to have their sexual orientation or gender identity changed.
NATIONAL SECURITY/ARMED SERVICES
As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I am committed to domestic defense against threats both external and internal, and in doing so ensuring the maintenance of our hard-won freedoms. For example, in the wake of the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol, I have supported the pursuit of truth so that our democracy will become more secure against domestic threats and all those seeking to disrupt the lawful processes of our government.
The rise of gun violence in this country has to be met in Congress by a rare unity of spirit. The tragedies of the racially-motivated Buffalo, New York shooting that left ten dead, the loss of nineteen children and two teachers to a school shooter in Uvalde, Texas, the untimely deaths of four in a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma—these indescribable losses can have no adequate redress but the swift passage of legislation designed to take and keep military-grade weapons out of the hands of criminals.
I’m proud to cosponsor legislation in the House to ban semiautomatic weapons from being sold to citizens under 21 in the Protecting Our Kids Act (H.R. 7910), though the low likelihood of it’s passing the Senate has encouraged me to sponsor my own legislation providing comprehensive gun control recommendations: the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2021 and the Help Empower Americans to Respond Act of 2021. The first of these bills tackles the shadowy online markets in which guns are bought and sold to unvetted individuals, and the latter prohibits the sale of silencers and mufflers. I have also sponsored the Handgun Licensing and Registration Act of 2021 (H.R. 4166) As a legislator, as an American, and as a grandparent, I understand it to be my duty to do everything in my power to stop these heinous crimes.
Protecting and honoring the men and women who defend our freedoms, both current members of the military and veterans, is the least that I can do in gratitude for their service. I’m to sponsor the Fallen Heroes Flag Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 8050) to honor those who have given their lives for the values and preservation of the United States. Furthermore, to protect those currently serving, I have long expressed support for legislation that gives women servicemembers legal protections against sexual violence and malpractice. Ensuring the equitable treatment of all those who generously dedicate their lives to altruistic military service is of paramount importance to me.
Acknowledging the massive spending dedicated to our nation’s defense, I support the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022 (H.R. 8040) to streamline the defense budget not out of disregard for the needs of our military but out of concern for the efficient use of taxpayer dollars. I will always urge good governance, oversight, and efficient use of resources in policymaking, and in reallocating defense funds for domestic purposes allows us to effectively prioritize issues of national security such as the rise in domestic terrorism and cybersecurity.
Prior to my tenure in Congress, I worked for the New Jersey Department of Transportation as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights, Contract Compliance and Affirmative Action. While addressing transportation challenges in New Jersey, I made safety, opportunity, and economic growth a priority. As your representative I am proud to continue promoting those core values through my work in the House of Representatives.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am determined to invest in transportation and infrastructure with close attention to safety, addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. With my support, the Department of Transportation will receive funding to ensure safety on our roads and rails. I go further to prioritize safety with H.R. 5131, The Surface Transportation and Public Area Security Act of 2018. The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to address emerging threats to our surface transportation system. Additionally, my dedication to economic growth can be seen in H.R. 3055, 2020’s transportation and housing funding bill, which promotes forward-looking investments to lay the ground work for both economic growth and opportunity.
Recently, I introduced the Prohibit Auto Insurance Act (PAID Act) to end discriminatory, non-driving factor practice when applying for auto insurance. I understand that citizens should not be discriminated against based on their income, education level, and other unrelated driving history when applying for car insurance. I strongly believe all residents across the United States deserve equity in auto insurance.
I will continue to establish transportation policies that benefit all American communities, guided by these key values: safety, opportunity, and economic growth.
Our armed service members put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve to be taken care of when they return home. Too often, veterans return to a country that is not adequately prepared to help assimilate them back into civilian life. Many veterans are not able to receive the healthcare – both mental and physical – they need. As a member of both the Medicare for All and Military Mental Health Caucuses, I have been on the front lines of Congress fighting to guarantee our veterans the healthcare that they need.
To that aim, I am a proud cosponsor of the STRONG Veterans Act of 2022 (H.R.6411), to help support the mental resilience of our nation’s veterans through mental health outreach programs, and ultimately ensure they do not lose the fight at home. This legislation gives the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) important new authorities and resources to support veterans’ mental health and well-being through increased training, outreach, mental health care delivery, and research in line with the Committee’s public health approachand President Biden’s strategy to address veteran suicide.
I’ve also voted for the PACT Act (H.R.3967), comprehensive legislation that seeks to address the full gamut of issues impacting toxic exposed veterans’ access to earned benefits and care.
I’ve often watched, horrified, as voters are routinely forced to stand in outrageous lines at their polling places. States across the country have cut back on early voting hours, absentee ballots and mail in ballots which will only add to the problem. These issues, coupled with new Voter ID laws present barriers to voting that put unacceptable restrictions on people’s’ access to their right to vote. Last year voters in 23 states faced greater obstacles at their polling places than they did in the midterms eight years ago.
How can we hold ourselves up as a model of democracy when instead of expanding and guaranteeing access to the ballot to all qualified voters, we seek to put barriers in place? Instead of embracing every possible opportunity to improve and facilitate one of the cornerstones of our democracy, we’re allowing it to crumble.
Many of these restricts are introduced on the premise that they prevent voter fraud. A recent study found that between 2000 and 2016 there were a total of 31 legitimate cases of voter fraud out of over one billion ballots cast. The specter of “voter fraud” is used to restrict voting rights of American citizens.
Many of the restrictions put in place are only possible because of the 2013 case, Shelby County v. Holder which effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act. It is time to reinvigorate a new voting rights act. One that protects the rights of voters everywhere. That’s why I’ve Co-Sponsored H.R. 1 to protect Americans’ access to the ballot, reduce the influence money in politics and strengthen ethics rules for our public servants.
Of the many tasks this body has, protecting the right to vote, the foundation that our democracy is built upon, the right for which countless Americans have fought over the course of our history, is at the top of the list. Protecting, expanding, and strengthening that right should be one of our greatest priorities.
“I am a woman. Hear me resist!” I said it at the Women’s March and I’ll say it again. Every issue is our issue, whether it’s healthcare, education, worker’s protection, environmental protection, a woman’s right to choose, civil rights, or LGBTQ rights. These are our rights and we will not be silent, deterred, or shut out. I will continue to stand in solidarity with all the strong women and allies as we demand equal rights, access to affordable health care and contraception, protections for our Dreamers, and more!
It’s obvious to me: women should receive equal pay for equal work. I have continued to fight for fair pay, paid leave, and against harmful bills—including the GOP Tax Bill—that threaten the prosperity of all New Jerseyans.
All woman should have health care coverage, especially during pregnancy. As a mom, I feel strongly that all mothers deserve the best care that doesn’t break the bank. That is why I authored the Healthy MOM Act, which would allow women to enroll in, or change their health coverage if they become pregnant.
No politician should be allowed to dictate the conversation that happens between a woman and her doctor. I remain a steadfast defender of choice and have been awarded top ratings by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and have been endorsed by the National Organization for Women.
Women of color should have a voice and seat at every table. I co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls - the first House caucus dedicated to advancing issues and legislation important to the welfare of Black women and girls - and am an active member of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
Women should feel comfortable in their workplace while remaining their natural selves. The natural hairstyles of black women have often been discriminated against and seen as “unprofessional” in most professional settings. I have sponsored The Crown Act of 2022 (H.R. 2116) which prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin. Specifically the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment.
No woman should have to endure violence of any kind. Period. It is an outrage that Congress has allowed the Violence Against Women Act(H.R. 6545) to expire. I am working hard to ensure that this bill is re-authorized, and that survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault do not go unsupported.
Feminine hygiene products are not luxury items, they are necessities. The same way that toilet paper and hand soap are offered for free in public restrooms, so too should tampons and sanitary pads. That’s why I’ve introduced the Enhancing Public Access to Feminine Hygiene Products Act.
I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all women in the march toward equal opportunity and advancement.