Joined by a group of industry leaders, the ITA Board members were in Washington, DC in May for the semi-annual day on Capitol Hill. On May 22, our team hit the ground running, hosting a 7:30 am breakfast fundraiser for Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL). Chairman Aderholt is a nine-term House of Representatives veteran and serves as the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The Chairman told us he supports greater transparency, accountability and oversight in the appropriations process. This message, coming on the heels of the FDA’s Administrative Order, was well received by our delegation. As important, the Agriculture/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee is the panel from where Rep. DeLauro has repeatedly focused her attacks; thus, having friends on this subcommittee is an important pillar of our overall legislative strategy.
After the breakfast, the team fanned out to the House and Senate office buildings to meet with members of Congress from both political parties, as well as with their personal and committee staffs. The ITA scheduled nearly 100 meetings for the participants, focusing primarily on each person’s home state Senators and Congressmen/women. Our group also met with members of the House and Senate committees that oversee the FDA and the Tan Tax.
In a strategy session held in advance of our Capitol Hill visit, three primary goals were established for all the meetings: make a connection with the elected officials in order to put a human face on our industry; alert our supporters that the FDA had released a proposed order to reclassify sunlamps and sunbeds to a more restrictive medical device category; and ask for support for repeal of the Tan Tax.
As has always been the case with events such as these, one attendee was the beneficiary of special treatment. Karen Bentlage (Future Industries) had a meeting scheduled with Congresswoman Virginia Fox (R-NC). Congresswoman Fox is a member of the House Republican leadership team and serves on the powerful House Committee on Rules. Congresswoman Fox took Karen on an exclusive insider’s tour of the House of Representatives including a visit to the House Republican Cloakroom. Located just off the House Floor, the cloakroom is one of the most cloistered parts of the House complex. This is a unique experience most people will never experience.
Thanks to all who found time in their busy schedules to join us in Washington! We have some challenges to address; but over the past 12 years, the ITA has devoted tremendous resources to Washington, D.C. and as a result we have developed relationships with many of the key decision makers. For that reason, on the vast majority of the visits, we find a welcome mat. We hope you can join us next time.
was the President of the Indoor Tanning Association.
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