Majority Whip Clyburn, Senator Tim Scott Join REALTORS® Virtual Legislative Meetings

Broadband expansion, remote online notary legislation discussed during Wednesday’s General Session

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2020) – The National Association of Realtors® today welcomed House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.-6) and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (S.C.) to discuss the Congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020 REALTORS® Virtual Legislative Meetings. This year marks the first virtual iteration of NAR’s legislative meetings, which bring around 10,000 Realtors® to Washington, D.C., every May. More than 25,000 people had registered as of Wednesday morning.

Majority Whip Clyburn has been one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of rural broadband deployment on Capitol Hill – making the issue one of his top policy priorities over recent decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vast, national need for significantly expanded access to efficient, affordable broadband infrastructure.

“We must make sure Americans’ homes remain connected to essential services. Two of those services that are so essential are the postal service and broadband internet,” Majority Whip Clyburn said Wednesday morning. “As we all know, homes must be connected to affordable, high-speed internet, especially during this time of social distancing. It is a necessity for telehealth, telework and remote learning. Thank you so much, President Malta, for the letter you recently sent to Congressional Leadership in support of accessible and affordable broadband.

“As Realtors, you are on the front lines of the issues facing American households, and you gain insight into conditions on the ground every day. We are working hard to help all our fellow Americans through this difficult time, and I thank you for working with us.”

On Monday, NAR sent a letter to Capitol Hill calling for increased investment in broadband infrastructure and services. 

“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented need for reliable and affordable high-speed internet,” NAR President Vince Malta’s letter reads. “Realtors® support a comprehensive national policy to stimulate the deployment of broadband, increase data speeds and lower broadband prices. As you [respond] to this national emergency, we urge you to support policies that ensure everyone has broadband internet.”

Senator Scott noted that the MLS in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., reported its highest ever weekly volume of contract activity this past week, despite economic challenges across much of the nation.

“Said differently, in the middle of a global pandemic, Realtors are hard at work looking to make a difference,” Senator Scott said. “Because what we realize is that homeownership is the fastest, most effective way to close the wealth gap. I love to think of it this way: when you have equity in your home, you have skin in the game of America. That’s great news, and it’s the fastest way to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

Senator Scott also expressed his interest in securing a federal solution to remote online notarization policy. 

“As goes the real estate market, so goes the economic fortune of this nation,” Senator Scott continued. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve spent a lot of time focusing my attention on e-notary. The good news in the Senate is that [Senator] Cramer is our lead, and we are working to make sure that it is easier for closings to happen.”

RON laws allow a notary and signer in different physical locations to safely and securely execute electronic documents using two-way audiovisual communication. Many states have already acted on this front, but NAR continues to contend the nation needs a uniform federal solution.

NAR wrote Congress in late March in support of the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020.” As Senator Scott noted, this legislation was introduced by Senator Kevin Cramer (N.D.). It would permit immediate nationwide use of RON, with minimum standards, and provide certainty for its interstate recognition.  

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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