Dropping in on Congress

Dropping in on Congress

Jul 22, 2013

One of the more satisfying chores of delegates at the NWF Annual Meeting—when in Washington DC–is the chance to sit across the table from your Congressman or Senator and tell him how you feel. It is also a fleeting prospect, since a staff member more often than not fills that chair. That prospect is even more likely if the Member does not agree with your stand on the issue.

Either way, though, it provides you a wedge…albeit a tiny one at times…to influence legislation. Even if the member votes against your stand, your face-to-face disagreement has to carry a bit more weight than a phone call or email.

The IWF had a three person ‘delegation’ knocking on Capitol Hill doors during the 2011 NWF conference in Washington DC. Sue Wilkinson, John Zietlow and Joe Wilkinson met separately with Congressman Dave Loebsack and staffers from the offices of Senators Harkin, Grassley and Congressmen Leonard Boswell and Bruce Braley. That IWF presence grew to four as Atlantic, Iowa native and NWF staffer Jenny Kordick sat in for a couple appointments.

Top priorities? Getting support for the Clean Water Act and for adequate conservation funding. This spring’s House-passed Continuing Resolution had drastic cuts in critical environmental programs. During the lobby sessions, the lawmakers were urged to vote to adequately fund conservation programs, and to vote against future budget or spending bills that include harmful Clean Water Act policy riders.

The IWF delegation had positive response from Loebsack, moments before he was summoned from the appointment to the House Floor for the next vote on the concurrent resolution.

Besides sessions breaking down the strategy behind successful environmental ballot measures and creating powerful messages to the public; the NWF event included a first ever Young Leaders Charter Assembly; recognizing that young leaders need to be identified for the challenges of the future…in the outdoor world.

Iowa’s Young Leader delegate was Jake Benedict of Iowa City.