Industry From the Hill: Politics & Risk the July/August 2023 issue

Fresh Perspective

Q&A with Rep. Erin Houchin, R-Indiana
By Blaire Bartlett Posted on July 17, 2023
Q
This isn’t your first foray into politics. Can you tell us a little bit about your background, what you did before you got to Congress?
A

I started as an intern in the Indiana State Senate in 1999 as a senior at IU. That’s where I met my husband… After the internship, I loved being part of that policymaking process so much I called the state house staff, house and senate, every Friday for six weeks in a row until they gave me a job as a legislative assistant. About midway through the year, I got a job offer to make more money serving as a statewide elected official and a bigger role. That was the worst year of my life workwise, and it almost ruined me on politics completely.

After I graduated from IU—my degree was psychology—I worked in child services and for various nonprofits dealing with children in foster care and in the child services system. My husband and I got married. He was a law student. I was very active politically, volunteering for Young Republicans on a variety of campaigns and going through every type of leadership program I could… I ran my husband’s campaign; he was our prosecutor, elected in our county for 16 years. He’s now a superior court judge.

Our kids have always been involved politically. … When I ran my husband’s first campaign, our daughters were two years old and an infant. I would literally load them up in the car and take them knocking on doors for him. And then when I ran for district chairman of the Republican Party in Indiana for the ninth congressional district where I serve today, I was nine months pregnant with my son. I ran for that because I think we build our communities from school boards to Washington, D.C., not the other way around. That put me back on the trajectory that I am currently on, which led to me getting my master’s in political management from GW, to working for U.S. Senator Dan Coats, which led me to run for the legislature, which led me here.

Q
That’s a lot to be involved in while also raising three kids. You know, you have that public service mentality, that go-getter hustle and mind frame, and that hasn’t stopped.
A
That’s true. That’s one of the reasons why I ran for the state senate in the first place. My senator was a 26-year incumbent, on the other side of the aisle; he was a Democrat. The district was barely Republican. It was like 50 and a half percent Republican, but he just was not active on behalf of the district. And that to me was disappointing. So yeah, it’s a go-getter attitude, and I don’t really take no for an answer. I usually tell my staff, “Don’t tell me no. Tell me how or why.” That’s the stance I took as a legislator, and still today, I’ll go to the end of the runway and try to go a little bit farther if it’s an issue that I’m deeply passionate about and feel that it’s that important to keep fighting for.
Q
And you’re still busy. You are not on one committee, not on two; you’re on three. You’re also elected leader for your class.
A
I was elected leader for my class. So I represent the freshman class, every fly-in week at the leadership table on behalf of the group that sent me there to represent them… I am on the House Financial Services, Education and Workforce, and Rules Committees.
Q
We’re excited at CIAB to have you on two committees of jurisdiction for our issues: House Financial Services, for things like flood insurance, terrorism risk insurance, and Education and Workforce for things like if there are amendments to ERISA, employee benefits issues. So what are going to be your priorities this Congress?
A

Well, in the Financial Services Committee, I’m working on a few things. One is just increasing access to capital, particularly for smaller retail investors but also small and medium-sized business owners, to seek investments up to $150 million to grow their businesses without having to go through an IPO and all the red tape that comes with that. That’s Regulation A plus…those kinds of things are important to me in terms of financial services.

I care deeply about trying to fix this flood insurance issue. If flood insurance isn’t working in Indiana and it’s not working in Louisiana, probably there’s something we need to do to address it. So that and just trying to increase access to affordable housing and for single-family homes—those first-time homebuyers who are really having a hard time finding a home or building a home that is in a price that they can afford.

Also figuring out this cryptocurrency and digital assets space and trying to make sure that we get a good regulatory structure so that we are not under threat—or the U.S. dollar isn’t under threat—from other countries.

In terms of the health subcommittee, I did a couple of bills in Indiana dealing with insurance. One of them was increasing access to Medicare supplement plans for adults under 65 who have a qualifying disability… I did have to work very strongly hand in hand with all the different stakeholders trying to come up with an end result that wouldn’t cost any particular group more than another in terms of subsidizing that program.

We currently also have federal agencies that are really overregulating. For instance, in my district, I visited some of the healthcare facilities that they’re requiring a certain number of staff-to-patient ratios that are not possible in our current economy. So those issues and then reducing the cost of healthcare and onshoring as much of our drug supply chain as we can.

Q
Who’s the member of Congress from across the aisle you work best with or you’ve recently worked with?
A

I talk often when I go home that this place is more cooperative and collaborative than I expected it to be. And it’s more functional than I thought coming in. We passed more than 40 bills with 86% bipartisan support, and that doesn’t often get noticed. I’m working on a couple of bills with Julia Brownley [D-Calif.]—that’s a dyslexia piece of legislation. And then with Judy Chu [D-Calif.] on a foster care bill, dealing with some workforce issues related to that and just making sure when kids age out of foster care they have the ability to have their diploma, that they have that support.

The last thing I would mention is we took a bipartisan trip with the Speaker overseas. We went to Jordan, Israel, Italy and Egypt. That was a great opportunity to spend some time with our Democrat counterparts on the other side of the aisle.

Q
Finally, what’s the number-one issue that you’re hearing from constituents on?
A

The economy and inflation certainly is still on the minds of my constituents. Then the border, just a wide open border and the consequences that come with that… We’ve lost 220 Hoosiers in my district to fentanyl overdoses. That’s the direct result of having an open border and all the fentanyl that’s coming across with it. … We’re 1,200 miles from the border in Indiana, but we are a border state.

Then thirdly, the district is very, very conservative. It’s a very red district. So some of these policy positions that my constituents perceive as woke or radical or far left, those are things that concern them too, and for me, that translates to over-regulation by the government in many ways.

Blaire Bartlett Vice President, Government and Political Affairs, The Council Read More

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