U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark joined Solomon McCown and Company CEO Helene Solomon for a wide-ranging discussion about a wide range of issues, from President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office to the increased number of women interested in running for office at all levels throughout the country.
The conversation began with the week’s big news out of Washington—President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey—and whether Clark felt his removal threatened the impartiality of the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. “Unequivocally, yes,” Clark replied.
The conversation then shifted to last week’s big news—healthcare.
“We just passed a really bad healthcare bill,” Clark said of the American Health Care Act. Clark also voiced her displeasure with House leadership. “It is frustrating to have these bills come out with no regular order” or attempt at a conversation with congressional democrats, despite issues that touch all Americans.
“Heroin addiction doesn’t really care if you’re in a red state or a blue state,” Clark said, and expressed a willingness to continue conversations with her colleagues in states like Kentucky to address the crisis.
Clark also mentioned the optics of Congress repealing the Affordable Care Act then walking down the House steps to “party buses” as protesters wept. But, despite the rushed House process, Clark remained confident that the Senate bill will be much different. “Stay tuned.”
Another issue political insiders are watching? The next big issue tackled by the House. Congresswoman Clark said the signals she’s seeing from House Speaker Paul Ryan indicate it will be tax reform, not infrastructure spending which had been a priority for candidate Trump last year.
Representative Clark has been a face of the so-called resistance—starting with a sit-in on the House floor in June 2016 after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. “We gave [the victims] 14 seconds of silence, and that was it,” Clark explained, adding she felt that the House owed it to the victims and survivors to debate commonsense gun control legislation. When Representative John Lewis suggested a sit-in to protest the inaction, Clark agreed.
“Anything you can ever do with John Lewis, do it.”
Clark continued her resistance in the new administration as the second woman to announce she would not attend January’s inauguration, a decision she made after learning more about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest and the very real fears of her constituents in the face of increased hate crimes after the 2016 campaign.
Despite these setbacks, Congresswoman Clark pointed out reasons for optimism in a tense time in our nation’s history. More Americans are feeling called to public service. Clark pointed out that at this point in the last election cycle, EMILY’s List had received 900 inquiries from women seeking higher office. Today? That number is a whopping 11,000 women.
Additionally, American veterans, scientists and teachers of all genders want to engage in government at all levels. “I’m very hopeful this will change the course we’re on and really be a challenge to this administration,” Clark said, noting that it will take hard work to advance candidates without a large network of potential donors.
Of course, at an event hosted by a strategic communications firm, Solomon asked how Clark communicates with her constituents and other key audiences. Congresswoman Clark gave a nod to social media, which helps her staff keep pace with a hyperactive news cycle. “We communicate in every way—aside from printed newsletters” which are now too expensive—and are out of date by the time they reach mailboxes.
Solomon asked Clark to peer into her crystal ball for the midterm and Massachusetts gubernatorial elections in 2018. When asked directly if she’ll run for Governor, Clark said no. But she has ideas on the qualities needed in the corner office.
“We are at the center of innovation and research—in energy, pharmaceutical and biotech. We have so much going on here. How do we ensure investment in research remains a priority? We need a visionary,” Clark said.
Thank you to Representative Clark for an engaging conversation, and thanks to all who attended. If you want to see the whole conversation, you can watch a recording of our Facebook Live broadcast. And stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes video!