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Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Announces 2009 Legislative Priorities

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke being sworn into the 111th Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Washington, DC — Representative Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-11) announced her 2009 legislative agenda today, highlighting several critical issues that are facing her district and the country.  The Congresswoman’s announcement comes one day after she was sworn into the 111th Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

“Our country is in the midst of one of the worse economic downturns of our time, and the year ahead will be difficult,” said Rep. Clarke.  “Although we have a lot of work ahead of us, my colleagues and I are already working to find the best policy solutions to get our country back on track.  I plan to implement an agenda for the 111th Congress that will tackle the housing crisis, help to create jobs, aid our schools, and bolster our struggling small businesses.”

Rep. Clarke will work immediately to usher through Congress a variety of legislation she championed during her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among Clarke’s top legislative priorities are the Citizenship and Immigration Backlog Reduction Act and the FAST Redress Act: a bill which amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002.  For the 111th session Rep. Clarke also plans to push through the reauthorization of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992.

As a member of the Small Business Committee Rep. Clarke plans to advocate and lead efforts on improving the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) special contracting programs to allow small businesses owned by disadvantaged individuals or located in impoverished areas to compete for government contracts.  

In addition, Clarke believes that we can make dramatic improvements to America’s education system by making significant changes to the No Child Left Behind Act.
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke will continue to back the creation and implementation of a universal healthcare system, which will provide an adequate level of healthcare coverage to everyone.

Rep. Clarke was recently re-elected in November with 94% of the vote and was also sworn in as Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday.

She currently sits on the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Small Business Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security.

Note: Below you will find all of the Rep Clarke’s legislative priorities.


Key Priorities for Rep. Clarke this Congress


Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke recognizes that affordable housing is a right that all Americans should enjoy.  Moreover, she is concerned with the many housing problems constituents face in the 11th Congressional District.  The Congresswoman intends to increase her support and provide special attention on housing issues.  Below are some possible legislative initiatives that the Member can address to become a strong housing advocate:

Reauthorize the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 by enhancing the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). This program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.  It also works to ensure affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.
The Congresswoman is determined to help raise the visibility of rental housing issues on the national stage and encourage debate about the federal government’s role.  Representative Clarke also wants to improve the quality of public housing.  So one area of focus for Ms. Clarke in the 111th Congress will be to reintroduce H.R. 6803 – Real Estate Assessment Center Inspection Improvement Act of 2008.  This bill requires the HUD Secretary to take necessary actions to improve the activities of the Real Estate Assessment Center of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for physical assessment and inspection of public housing and federally assisted multifamily housing, including developing a detailed process to improve planning and preparation for such inspections.
Another area of focus for Representative Clarke will be to support legislation that builds on lessons from HUD’s public housing reform program known as HOPE VI, targeting resources to replace distressed and overly concentrated public housing with mixed-income developments, while preserving affordable options for low-income households and protecting the hard to house.


Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke plans to address immigration issues as well this session, which is one of the most pressing issues our nation is facing today.  She will work to shape immigration policy by ushering through Congress legislation that promotes sensible reform.  Her initiative for the 111th Congress include:

•    Rep. Clarke is greatly concerned about the number of legal permanent residents who are being deported from our shores for having made minor mistakes that do not warrant such punishment.  Like all Americans, legal permanent residents of this country occasionally make mistakes—perhaps they committed an act of vandalism in high school, or were found with an illegal substance as a teenager, or got in a fight in college—the types of crimes that many American success stories have in their past.  As a result of such small infractions, countless immigrants have been arrested and deported, sometimes many years after having committed the crime and paying the price.

This results in broken families and ruined lives, as one person is torn away from the rest, never to return.  Such unfair treatment is the result of poorly written laws that prevent judges from using the discretion for which they are hired.  Rep. Clarke will work to ensure that immigration judges are given the power to actually judge each person on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that while the bad people are deported, the people who contribute to our nation are allowed to remain in the U.S.

•    Rep. Clarke is also greatly concerned about the great inefficiency of the vast bureaucracies that make up our country’s immigration system.  Divided between multiple departments and dozens of agencies, many lawyers and government officials who handle immigration for a living do not even know which parts of the government are responsible for every aspect of the process.  With this level of confusion, it is clear why so many immigrants have their attempts to navigate this system end in frustration and failure.  Rep. Clarke will work in the 111th Congress to streamline and simplify the bureaucracy, making certain that there is oversight for the entire system as opposed to the current piecemeal way of doing things.

•    After introducing the bipartisan Citizenship and Immigration Backlog Reduction Act in the 110th Congress, the FBI and USCIS reacted by promising to implement a program to reduce the existing backlog of background checks that are currently bogging down the processes for receiving a green card or achieving citizenship.  In the coming Congress, Rep. Clarke will be examining these agencies to make sure this program is fully implemented and that it works.  If the problems are not resolved, she will look at renewing her legislative efforts to bring the requisite change by force.

Civil Liberties

Rep. Clarke will reintroduce the FAST Redress Act.  This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a timely and fair redress process for individuals who believe they were delayed or prohibited from boarding a commercial aircraft or receiving any other government benefit or service because they were wrongly identified as a threat when screened against the terrorist watchlist.  This legislation allows the public to voluntarily submit their names to a “cleared list” that prevents future problems.


In her position as a key member on the Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke will work to make sure that the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) actually occurs during the 111th Congress.
•    The Workforce Investment Act addresses retraining and training issues. In addition to ensuring that the Act is reauthorized, Congresswoman Clarke will specifically seek funding for local apprenticeship programs as well as propose a creation of a national apprenticeship program. 

•    Congresswoman Clarke believes that apprenticeships can be one of the cornerstones of workforce development and as such should be fully utilized in the effort to employ Americans.

Minority and Women-Owned Businesses:

The Congresswoman wants to leave her mark in the small business community by enhancing legislation to enhance the following programs:

•    8(a) Program, Small Disadvantaged Business Program, and Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone program. 

•    A major priority for Ms. Clarke will be to address issues and concerns that take place in the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, which every federal agency has to resolve minority and women-owned business concerns.

Other legislative initiatives:

•    Congresswoman Yvette Clarke seeks to reintroduce H.R. 7087, which amends the Small Business Act to direct the SBA Administrator to establish a grant program to state and local governments; assist eligible small businesses in  building their capacity and access to contracting opportunities in the construction industry, in particular, women and socially and economically disadvantaged enterprises. 


In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act, representing this nation’s commitment to closing the achievement gap and helping all children learn by holding states and schools accountable for student academic progress.  However, signifi