On Tuesday evening, May 16th and Wednesday, May 17th, NARI members from around the country converged on Washington, DC for the third and largest NARI DC Fly-In and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.  NARI members came to meet with their Congressional Representatives about the important issues impacting the remodeling industry.  Each year the fly-in grows and this year’s attendance nearly doubled in size! We were taken on an exclusive and personal nighttime tour of the U.S. Capitol.  Leading the tour was NARI’s government affairs representatives – former U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson, and former Congressmen Albert Wynn and Charles Bass. One notable highlight of the tour included the opportunity to venture out onto the Speaker of the House’s balcony, something only few are able to experience.  In addition to the Speaker’s balcony, NARI members were able to visit the House and Senate floors.

On Wednesday morning, we gathered in the historic Lincoln Room located directly off Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The Lincoln Room is not generally open to the public and is only offered with express consent from the Majority Whip.  This room was a former cloak room for members of Congress and the location where President Lincoln spent time during his two years in the U.S. Congress.

During our morning session, Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), Chairman of the Small Business Committee, spent time discussing regulatory reform and his commitment to work to provide relief for small businesses – specifically, regulatory relief.  Next, Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) who sits on both the Small Business Committee and Education and Workforce Committee, focused his remarks on regulatory relief and workforce development.  Both guests welcomed input and questions from the group, and they engaged in great conversation.  In addition to the two speakers, Senator Hutchinson and Congressman Wynn provided a bipartisan outlook on the remarkably unusual current political landscape.

The remainder of the morning focused on a “Lobbying 101” session to prepare all attendees on what to expect on the Hill and legislative issues that NARI members would discuss in each of their Congressional meetings.  Those issues included: Workforce Development; Energy Efficiency Legislation; and Tax Reform.  Members of Congress and their staff always expect an “ask” during these meetings where constituents ask for their help.

We then had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our local lawmakers and their staff.  During the meetings, we asked our members of Congress to support legislation that impacts the remodeling industry.  Federal lobbying is a Constitutional right and many fail to take advantage of this privilege.  Some of the feedback from my fellow attendees is provided below:

Making our individual and combined voices known, directly, to our nation’s Senators and Congressmen, is an important step in making sure our industry and our NARI membership is fairly represented.

“The perspective given by both sitting/retired senators and representatives was most enlightening not to mention the back drop of the rare opportunity to meet in the Lincoln room.  In addition, I was able to sit down with both a Democrat and Republican representative who listened as I explained NARI’s issues. They were both very receptive to us. WE are making a difference and getting noticed in the process.”  Laurence Carolan, NARI National – Chair of Government Affairs

Several attendees also noted that the DC Fly-in is critical to growing and maintaining relationships with members of Congress.  While Congress may not always actively focus on all NARI’s federal priorities, building relationships and educating Congressional representatives and staff will only help further NARI’s goals.  NARI members can be sure they left DC with relationships that were stronger than when they arrived and can be maintained through this Congressional session.  NARI looks forward to expanding this event next year!.