WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.
The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.
The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis, 407-10, according to the official U.S. Congress website.
H.R. 4909 re-authorizes the 2001 Secure Our Schools program and increases money to the nation’s schools to deal with safety issues from $30 million to $50 million.
In addition, the bill allows for schools to provide staff incident training, technology-based systems for students to report threats against schools anonymously, to develop and operate school threat and intervention teams, and to purchase security equipment for the buildings, such as metal detectors.
“It is truly disappointing of our district’s current representative to espouse her commitment to make schools safer in front of students in her district, and then return to Washington, D.C., and be one of only a few to vote against a bill that does just that,” Republican 12th District congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis said. “This is the height of hypocrisy while obstructing sensible, overwhelmingly bipartisan, action on that very issue.”
Coleman held a town hall forum with students in East Brunswick on Saturday, professing her commitment to school safety, even releasing a video with students talking about their fears in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting last month that killed 17 and injured more than a dozen.
“There is a number of pieces of legislation that exist right now in both the state legislature ‘hopper’ and in the federal legislative ‘hopper,’ and some of that will answer some of your issues,” she said during the forum. “Those who are elected to represent the people are held accountable by the people. When the people stand up and do what they have to do, elected officials act accordingly.”
In a statement on her official government website four days after the student forum, however, Coleman said she opposed the bill.
“Legislation with this magnitude of concern deserves to be considered in regular order with the opportunity for amendments that would mitigate unintended consequences and allow proactive attempts to reverse the school to prison pipeline,” she said in the statement. “I truly believe that, if given the chance, Congress could have addressed these issues in a bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately, we did not have that opportunity today (March 14). I look forward to supporting other measures that will more holistically and effectively address the pressing issues of school safety.”
Ironically, her opposing vote on school safety came on the day when students across the country staged 17-minute “walk-outs” at schools to remember the fallen Florida victims exactly one month after the killings.
She even took pictures with students in front of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, allegedly supporting their calls for safer schools while voting against the bill.
“Constituents in the 12th District need a true representative that is willing and able to take action instead of just providing them lip service with heated rhetoric,” Kipnis said. “This bill makes more money available to schools throughout the nation to better secure themselves as well as provide training and resources to help prevent such tragedies in the future.”
Kipnis pointed out that even Democrat extremists including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, D-CA, voted to approve the bill, which is likely to also pass the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan basis and eventually be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
“It is indeed rare in today’s regrettably divisive and partisan political climate that members of Congress in both parties and President Trump can agree on anything, and in this instance, they have overwhelmingly advanced common-sense school safety reform policies at a time when we have never needed them more,” Kipnis said. “Unfortunately, the legislative judgment of NJ12’s current Representative appears to be so clouded by her personal political motivation to resist and reject each and every policy for the good our nation supported by President Trump, even ones supported by her own Democratic Party’s leadership, that she is willing to risk more of our children’s lives when this act looks to go a long way toward making schools safer from a large variety of threats.”
“The question I would ask, then, is ‘Where is your plan to make schools, especially in the 12th District of New Jersey, safer? Where is the Watson Coleman School Safety Bill?” he said. “If she can’t be counted on to work with her fellow members of Congress by presenting her own policy initiatives for their consideration in the form of a bill or amendment on an issue as vital to our nation as school safety that requires immediate response, how can she be counted on to resolve any other issues important to New Jerseyans? As constituents, we deserve better than our Representative voting ‘NO’ and offering no specific policy alternative. People of the 12th District want leadership in Washington to bring solutions for New Jersey, and that’s exactly what I will provide as their next congressman.”