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Congress Connect Transports Us Virtually to Capitol Hill

NACD’s first-ever Congress Connect meeting took place in early May, once again putting our membership in direct contact with lawmakers and members of Congress.

The online event spanned two weeks and was the first time we’d held a truly virtual version of our popular Washington Fly-In, which we’ve been unable to host because of current COVID-19 restrictions.

Thanks to all those who attended. It proved a huge success, and we were pleased to be joined by both veteran Fly-In attendees and plenty of newcomers.

We decided to take a slightly different approach to our two previous virtual Fly-In events held in September 2020 and February this year.

Whereas those were more traditional roundtable discussions, each lasting several hours and featuring a selection of key legislators and decision-makers, Congress Connect was more of a direct translation of our usual in-person Fly-In.

Advocacy remains a hugely important aspect of what we do here at NACD, particularly in these trying times, and we’re constantly striving to get your voices heard and emphasize the great work you do.

Congress Connect gave attendees the opportunity to join scheduled meetings with their members of Congress and talk to them directly through video calls via Zoom.

This new format reunited our membership with those on Capitol Hill, allowing them to personally meet their representatives and discuss all the policies that affect their businesses. It also provided the perfect opportunity to highlight the important role played by the chemical distribution industry – something that has never been more apparent than during the pandemic this past year!

We were particularly lucky to have Congressman Sam Graves, the Ranking Member on House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as our keynote speaker to open proceedings. NACD President Eric Byer then led an Advocacy 101 Prep session to outline the many topics we’d be covering in the fortnight ahead.

There were certainly plenty of issues to cover but trade and transportation, of course, took center stage.

Some of the hot topics included the port congestion and maritime shipping issues that we’re seeing in the U.S. right now, as well as the DRIVE-Safe Act and whether we’d soon see the long-awaited renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB).

Each of the 30-minute sessions saw two or three constituents meet with staff from the Congressional offices. An actual member of Congress joined us for about a third of those meetings.

A virtual Happy Hour in the second week was also attended by Chemistry Caucus co-chairs Congressman John Moolenaar of Michigan and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos from Illinois.

Arranging the logistics for Congress Connect was no mean feat, especially given we had to coordinate all the meetings to suit the different time zones and availability for our members and their congressional delegations – but we successfully managed to accommodate everyone and had a really fantastic event.

We’re very grateful to all those who were able to make room in their busy schedules to join us over the course of those two weeks and hope you agree that for a virtual event, it was as close a translation to the in-person Fly-In as possible.

Hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll once again be seeing you face-to-face back here in Washington DC.

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