OIA in D.C. Notes From The Hill: September 2021
September brought members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate back to Washington, D.C. and with them came renewed efforts to negotiate sweeping infrastructure and reconciliation legislation – both of which contain key policy priorities for our outdoor industry.
Outdoor Industry Association has been working tirelessly to put our members’ voices at the forefront of policy discussions, including through media engagement like this op-ed authored by the CEOs of Burton Snowboards, Klean Kanteen, and NEMO Equipment – winners of this year’s Climate Action Corps’ Path to Positive Leadership Awards.
Climate is Top of Mind on the Hill
After a dramatic week of negotiations in the House of Representatives, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal remains in play on Capitol Hill. House Democratic leadership pushed the deadline to pass the legislation to October 31, 2021, giving members of Congress another month to negotiate spending legislation and gather the votes for infrastructure. The outdoor industry has been a key player in negotiations of this bill, from advocating on Capitol Hill to sitting down with President Biden and Vice President Harris to discuss our industry’s priorities. This historic investment contains funding to increase accessibility to the outdoors and mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as widespread wildfires and droughts. Now, as Democratic lawmakers work to enact President Biden’s agenda, attention has turned to budget reconciliation, which provides a once-in-a-generation chance to enact policies that would have a great impact on our industry.
All About Reconciliation
On September 15, OIA hosted a webinar to explain the ins and outs of the reconciliation process, answer questions from members, and discuss the role outdoor businesses can play in influencing policy outcomes.
Following that discussion, OIA and several member companies sent a letter to congressional leadership detailing the outdoor industry’s support of the climate provisions in the budget proposal. Specifically, the letter encouraged Congress to prioritize funding for a Civilian Climate Corps, make investments in renewable energy, and build programs to increase access to outdoor spaces in communities that have been traditionally underserved. We are making a powerful statement from our industry to encourage lawmakers to follow our lead and join us in building a climate-forward economy.
But, our work on reconciliation isn’t stopping there. In October, OIA will hold a series of meetings with members of the Recreation Advisory Council (RAC), Trade Advisory Council (TAC), and other members of leadership to discuss the implications of this legislation and advance a strategy for making the outdoor industry’s voice heard. We welcome your voice in these critical discussions.
Throughout the month of October, OIA staff and our members will work behind the scenes to continue to be a key player in these policy discussions and advocate for the policies that will benefit our industry and our consumers.
Action Beyond Climate Policy
In September, we also put our weight behind the nomination process for the Director of the National Parks Service and policies related to the COVID-19 vaccine, expanding the outdoor industry’s reach and influence far beyond just climate policy.
On September 9, OIA sent a letter of support for Biden’s nominee for Director of the National Parks Service, Chuck Sams, expressing our belief that he will be a strong partner in ensuring National Parks continue to support local communities and remain a haven for outdoor recreation.
We also sent a letter signed by OIA members to President Biden in support for the White House’s effort to send COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam, which is an important trade partner for our industry.
The GSP Footwear legislation moved forward this month, which has been a long-term priority for OIA and our members. This bill would allow the president to designate certain footwear as eligible for duty-free treatment, which would make American footwear manufacturers more competitive in the global market. We anticipate the bill will be introduced in the House and Senate in October.
In our most recent podcast episode, I spoke with members of the OIA Trade Advisory Council about the recent increase in shipping costs, and its implications for importers and exporters. During the conversation, we discussed the incredible 450-percent rise in shipping costs and the ripple effects throughout supply chains. We also discuss what we’ve already done and what we’ll continue to do to urge action from this administration and Congress. You can listen to that episode here.
New Addition to the OIA Team
Please join in welcoming our newest member of our OIA government relations team – Rebecca Gillis. She is joining OIA as the State and Local Government Affairs Manager, where she’ll play an integral role in driving our members’ state and local policy priorities forward. She comes to the OIA team from Denver Economic Development and Opportunity, where she worked to bring outdoor recreation, financial services, and health and wellness businesses to the City of Denver. Rebecca brings a wealth of knowledge of the policies and priorities that impact outdoor businesses and experience in ensuring business needs are met. We’re thrilled to have her on the government relations team and look forward to a successful future with state and local policy.