WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2016—Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, is the Gerald Solomon-Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) Legislator of the Year for 2015.
Chairman Conaway was instrumental in ensuring that the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) was not harmed during the 2014 Farm Bill negotiations, and led the charge to reverse $3 billion in program cuts included in the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Agreement. The combination of these cuts, coupled with the $12 billion in cuts to the program over the past eight years, would have devastated the crop program and its agent distribution force.
In his acceptance remarks, Rep. Conaway discussed how he negotiated the reversal of budget cuts that ultimately preserved the efficacy of the FCIP. He also graciously thanked his colleagues, staff and the Big “I” agents who worked with him on the effort.
“Breaking down last year’s budget deal was a big issue and it was bipartisan,” said Rep. Conaway. “There were bipartisan efforts on all sides.”
Rep. Conaway also said that the FCIP discussion “gave us the opportunity to tell the world why crop insurance is so important and to walk them through the history of the cuts.”
The Big “I” fought alongside Rep. Conaway and launched a nationwide grassroots campaign against reopening the Farm Bill to cut crop insurance. The Chairman noted that launching grassroots and explaining the program to members of Congress helps lay the groundwork for future Farm Bills and legislation.
“We are grateful to U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway for his efforts to staunchly protect the crop insurance program and his unwavering commitment to protecting American agriculture,” said Bob Rusbuldt, Big ‘I” president & CEO, who presented the award. “Chairman Conaway fought off numerous budget attacks on the program that provides a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers and did so in a swift, bipartisan fashion. Restoring funding after budget cuts, particularly so quickly, is an incredibly difficult task, however the Chairman was persistent, strategic and ultimately successful in protecting the FCIP.”
Serving his sixth term in the House, Rep. Conaway represents the 29 counties that comprise the Lone Star State’s 11th congressional district, which includes the cities of Midland, Odessa and San Angelo. In addition to leading the Agriculture Committee, he serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He also holds a leadership position as Deputy Republican Whip.
A native Texan, he grew up in Odessa and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Texas A & M University-Commerce. Rep. Conaway also served in the U.S. Army.
The Legislator of the Year Award is bestowed annually by the Big “I” upon a member of Congress who has provided outstanding leadership on insurance issues. It is named as a tribute to the late Congressman Gerald Solomon (R-New York), the former House Rules Committee chairman and Big “I” member who championed independent agent and broker legislative concerns during his 20 years in Congress.
The award was presented during the annual Leadership Luncheon, just prior to the annual Big “I” Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Attendees included Big “I” executive and government affairs committee members, agents and brokers from Rep. Conway’s home state of Texas and other industry leaders.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.