First term Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) has wasted no time in stepping up in the fight to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems. In a House floor statement on December 17th, the first African American women elected to Congress from the State of New Jersey announced that “[t]here are several glaring omissions in the omnibus [government funding] bill, but none are more illogical than our failure to support Puerto Rico.” She added:
It is unfathomable that we are unwilling to support a U.S. territory in a financial meltdown just as we offer permanent tax breaks for corporations and special interests who don’t even need our help. We are leaving the citizens of Puerto Rico woefully in need.
This is not fair. This is un-American. This is not who we are.
What is our responsibility to the citizens of Puerto Rico who won’t have access to good hospitals and medical care and Medicare? What about the children, almost 56 percent, who live in poverty? What are we saying to them?
What we are saying in this bill that is before us this day coming forth that is expected to move forward in this House is that we are still only concerned with elevating the status, the well-being,the security, and the happiness of those who already have a lion’s share of all of it.
Mr. Speaker, we are better than that. We have a responsibility to speak up, protect, preserve, and ensure opportunity for all. That is what we have been elected to do.