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.
[Click here to see all of Watson Coleman’s Caucus Memberships].
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.