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Herman Badillo

former US representative

Herman Badillo, the first Congressman born in Puerto Rico to represent a district in the continental United States, was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 21, 1929. After a tuberculosis epidemic claimed the lives of both of his parents, he moved with his aunt to New York City, where he attended public schools. Herman earned a B.A. degree from City College of New York, and a LL.B. from Brooklyn Law School. The following year he was admitted to the bar and practiced law in New York City. He also worked as an accountant while he was in law school, and became a certified public accountant in 1956. In 1970 Badillo was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 21st District in the South Bronx. He won with eighty-four percent of the vote and was reelected to the three succeeding Congresses, each time with an impressive percentage of the vote. During his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives he gained a seat on the Committee on Education and Labor, where he worked on legislation on behalf of his district, where at the time forty-eight percent of the people spoke English as a second language. Through his efforts, job training for unemployed non-English-speaking citizens was included in the Comprehensive Manpower Act of 1973. Badillo also served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Small Business Committee, where he had a seat on the Minority Enterprise and General Oversight Subcommittee. These committee assignments were of particular importance to his constituents, many of whom lived in poverty and had low levels of education. He supported numerous legislative initiatives to establish community development programs, and he labored to expand educational opportunities by proposing tax credits for educational expenses, as well as provisions aimed at encouraging disadvantaged youth to pursue careers in the health professions. Badillo also supported legislation intended to fight various forms of discrimination, including age and marital status discrimination in employment. In addition he supported energy conservation programs and incentive programs to promote the commercial application of solar energy and renewable resources.