At a reception on Capitol Hill last week, NCBA CLUSA and Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) welcomed incoming freshmen to the 115th Congress and invited them to join the recently reestablished caucus.
In her introduction of the co-chairs, NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Judy Ziewacz noted that while co-ops inject $3 trillion into the U.S. economy each year, their unique value is offering members a piece of their success. “This caucus shines a light on all the good that co-ops do building wealth in local communities,” she said.
Rep. Royce, a leading Congressional advocate for credit unions, mutual insurers and rural electric co-ops, thanked the cooperative community for supporting passage of the Electrify Africa Act, adding that the cooperative business model works particularly well as a development tool.
“Stop and think for a minute what it means for 50 million human beings, by 2020, to have access to electricity that they would not have otherwise had. Think what it means to those sons and daughters that were burning kerosene lamps or studying by candlelight, when that problem is solved. That is something you did,” Royce told an audience of NCBA CLUSA Board members, co-op sector executives and Congressional staffers.
“I thank you, and I look forward to many additional victories. Let’s look for every opportunity to get the cooperative narrative into every bill we can!” he added.
Caucus co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) joined Royce at the reception, pointing out that co-ops are integral to the U.S. economy because they create jobs that pay fair wages and offer member-owners a chance to directly shape business decisions. He also pledged the caucus’ continued advocacy on issues affecting cooperatives.
“Our job is to keep the cooperative business model at the forefront, regardless of what may happen. Whether changes in tax policy or anything else, we’ve got to make sure that this cooperative caucus is able to rally its membership and be ready to act,” Pocan said.
Two new representatives have already joined the caucus: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), serving Wisconsin’s 8th District and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), representing New Hampshire’s 1st District. Gallagher is an incoming freshman; Shea-Porter is serving her fourth term in Congress.
“It’s going to be extremely important to recruit more caucus members, given the current political landscape, so we’re going to be counting on the caucus throughout the coming months to get as many members of Congress as we can engaged to support our work,” Ziewacz said.