Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts), assistant speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, voiced her support for legislative solutions that will make families, businesses and communities stronger.
This morning, during the 2022 Big “I" Legislative Conference, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts), assistant speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, addressed Big “I" members and voiced her support for a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and legislative solutions that will make families, businesses and communities stronger.
Rep. Clark is one of the most influential and thoughtful voices in Congress. First elected to Congress in 2013, she represents Massachusetts's 5th Congressional District. Rep. Clark also sits on the powerful House Committee on Appropriations. In Congress, she brings her experience as a state senator, state representative, general counsel for the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services, and policy chief for the state attorney general.
As independent insurance agents and brokers convene on Capitol Hill and meet with their state legislators, one of the key issues that will be discussed is flood insurance and the long-term reauthorization of the NFIP.
Last month, the NFIP was once again extended on a short-term basis through September of 2022 and Rep. Clark shared her sympathy with agents after a series of stop-gap solutions. “I understand how frustrating it is to watch the program lapse and see the lack of certainty that only a short-term extension brings," Rep. Clark said. “I support the long-term reauthorization of the program, which will provide the certainty for the future that you and your clients need."
“I have many colleagues on both sides of the aisle that agree with me, so I'm confident we are going to be able to get to a long-term solution and we are going to rely on your support to get this over the finish line," she added.
Rep. Clark's career in public service is driven by her commitment to helping children and families succeed. She is a vocal advocate for ending wage discrimination, protecting women's health care, access to affordable, high-quality childcare, paid family leave, safer schools and other reforms to address the challenges women and families face. She believes that Congress must work to end the glaring disconnect between the needs of families at home and priorities in Washington.
During her address, Rep. Clark noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges that American businesses and families are facing. However, the COVID-19 relief policies passed by Congress, such as the Payment Protection Program (PPP), helped keep the American economy moving during one of the most turbulent times in modern history, adding that these polices were in no small part informed by the expertise of the Big “I" government affairs team and independent insurance agents.
“The Big 'I' has helped keep the backbone of our nation's economy and small businesses afloat during unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty of this crisis, and it's our job in Washington, D.C., to ensure you have the tools you need to be successful," Rep. Clark said. “Since its inception, the PPP has provided small businesses with the funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs, including benefits, and also pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities—families and businesses needed that lifeline."
After referring to small businesses as “the fabric of the communities in my district and across this country," Rep. Clark said that these “rescue packages lived up to their names" and shared her experiences watching COVID-19 relief in action as it helped to revitalize her community.
Against the backdrop of rising inflation and the pandemic, one issue facing Americans today that Rep. Clark highlighted was child care. When speaking with a group of restaurateurs, “the No. 1 issue that they brought to me was that a lack of child care was preventing their workforce from getting back and being able to participate again," she said. “And when I talked to Fortune 100 CEOs and small business leaders alike about the difficulties they are experiencing recruiting and retaining employees, child care is always one of the major barriers."
“We can't go on acting like child care is a private problem for families to solve on their own; it is critical to economic infrastructure—and it is time that we acted like it," she said.
The Big “I" Legislative Conference is the premier event for independent agents and offers an opportunity for agents to speak to their federal legislators with a unified voice. Rep. Clark thanked the audience and all Big “I" members for their advocacy on the issues most important to their business, their clients and their communities.
When business leaders engage with their legislators, “it doesn't just help small business owners build and grow, it helps our entire economy create success because every story you tell me, every challenge facing your members and every idea they have to create a solution will become part of our next legislative answer to the struggles you're experiencing on Main Street," she added. “We are going to make historic progress."
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.