Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, one of the most popular events during Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Committee Week, takes place today (June 3) in Washington, D.C., and judging by participation alone it’s shaping up to be an enormously successful event.
Last year, 27 RVIA members and staff met with eight congressmen in about 70 meetings. This year, those numbers rose significantly, as 52 RVIA members and staff will meet with 49 congressmen in more than 100 meetings.
“That really indicates the level of interest among RVIA members as well as members of Congress,” said BJ Thompson of BJ Thompson & Associates, an RVIA board member who’s part of the RVIA delegation.
Jay Landers, RVIA senior director of government affairs, added, “This is probably the biggest Advocacy Day that we’ve run in 14 years. Basically, we invite all of the members of RVIA to visit with their elected officials on Capitol Hill. The RVIA staff arranges for meetings and then we create a state-of-the-industry paper that gives the congressional offices an update on how the industry’s doing in terms of shipments, employment and so forth. We also have one-page briefing papers – issue papers – that we take with us when we go up to Capitol Hill and hit the congressional offices, the House and Senate.”
Landers noted that a key initiative stemming from Advocacy Day was the creation of an RV Caucus on the House side last year and how they’re in the process of assembling a similar entity on the Senate side this year. “These (caucuses) will be our champions, our go-to folks when federal type issues arise. So we’ve planned a big reception on Capitol Hill tonight after Advocacy Day on the Senate side,” said Landers, adding that last year’s reception drew an exceptional attendance of about 200 people, a number they’re expecting to perhaps match this evening. “Going forward, we hope to have joint House and Senate caucus meetings and receptions.”
The thrust of Advocacy Day is to increase awareness of the RV industry at the federal level and focus attention on issues that impact the RV market.
“We are swarming Capitol Hill to show our appreciation for all the help the senators and representatives have given us, and to show our thanks for them joining the Senate and House RV caucuses,” said Thompson. “Of course, we’ll also be talking about some issues, including the RV-HUD clarification and electronic logging devices. Plus, we’ll be looking to create and enhance relationships with members of Congress.”
Thompson added that the delegation met this morning with Dean Hinson and Joel Elliott, chiefs of staff for U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., respectively, who provided advice on how to extract the maximum benefit from each meeting.
In addition to today’s meetings, RVIA is hosting a Class A motorhome display on Capitol Hill, which will provide members of Congress and their staff an opportunity to learn more about the industry and experience the RV lifestyle firsthand. Thompson said Donnelly’s office was instrumental in getting the motorhome placed in the heart of Capitol Hill between the Dirksen and Russell Senate office buildings.
Later today, Capitol Hill Advocacy Day culminates with a special inaugural reception honoring the Senate RV Caucus featuring Donnelly and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who co-chair the group.
An events room at the top of the Hart Senate Office Building will be transformed into a campground setting where RVIA members will mingle with special guests from the U.S. Senate, Capitol Hill staff and allied trade associations.
The newly formed Senate RV Caucus joins the House RV Caucus to provide the industry with two influential groups to support the industry’s efforts in Washington, D.C.