Capping this year’s Summit program, 27 Financial Executive International (FEI) members and partners gathered Wednesday, June 4, for a day of meetings with their members of Congress and staff.
The group boarded the bus at National Harbor for an 8:00 am meeting at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Washington, D.C., office for breakfast and a briefing by Ed McClellan, PwC Principal and former Senior Tax Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee (he helped write the legislation implementing the Bush tax cuts). Ed covered the policy landscape and gave FEI members some useful insights into conducting an effective constituent meeting. He was followed by FEI government affairs staff who highlighted some of FEI’s key advocacy issues and explained the day’s logistics.
Then up to Capitol Hill, where most of the group started the morning with the Majority staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, discussing Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) tax reform legislation and how several recent bills to make permanent parts of the so-called tax-extenders package (such as the R&D tax credit, 179 accelerated depreciation and bonus depreciation) fit into that strategy. Afterwards, FEI members dispersed to 42 individual or group meetings with their Senators, Representatives, and Capitol Hill policy staffers throughout the day.
The group reconvened at 1:30 pm for a meeting with Chris Campbell, Chief of Staff for the Senate Finance Committee’s Ranking Member Orin Hatch (R-Utah)to discuss tax reform and the EXPIRE Act (the Senate version of the tax extenders package), and then continued constituent meetings until 4:15 pm when the bus departed for National Harbor.
The individual meetings provided members an opportunity to promote issues of concern, and offer their assistance in the advancement of key legislation. For example, Nicholas Sucic, VP and Controller, Davey Tree Expert Co., was asked by Senator Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) tax counsel to provide additional information on his company and their cash off-shore, to help develop the Senator’s draft of tax reform legislation.
While tax reform loomed large in nearly all the meetings, FEI members also discussed pending derivative legislation and the CFTC reauthorization bill, education reform, health care costs and immigration. Mark McClendon’s (Vice Chancellor for Finance, Tarrant County College District) suggestion that companies receive tax credits for helping employees pay down student loans was well received by the Texas delegation. Andrea Jones (Director of Finance, BEMO USA Corporation) pointed out the absurdity of an immigration system so byzantine that it prevented BEMO from obtaining a temporary visa for a foreign expert to train local employees on a new machine, which now stands idle in their warehouse producing neither revenue nor jobs.
And there were serendipitous moments as well. Jennifer Fox, CFO of DATATRAK International, found out that Congressman Bill Flores (R-Tex.) had been an FEI member while CFO and CEO of Phoenix Exploration. Rep. Flores proposed a site visit to DATATRAK, which may take place in August. FEI Government Affairs Manager Tyler Roberts will work with a colleague on the Congressman’s staff to facilitate the visit. Professor Mark Walker, University of Mississippi, was pleasantly surprised to run into a former student, now on Senator Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) staff.
Hill Day was another successful example of FEI’s efforts to mobilize member engagement in the advocacy process. From fly-ins and in-district meetings, to the use of FEI Grassroots (our new one-click system for contacting your member of Congress just prior to committee and floor votes on key bills), to our Chapter co-sponsored Washington Updates and Private Company Forum, our policy-related webinars and our Private Company and Government Contractor Roundtables, FEI has set out a plethora of ways that members can directly influence the legislative and regulatory process. The more members who reach out and engage with FEI on policy matters, the more effective FEI’s efforts are to advance members issues and agendas.
For more information on FEI’s Government Affairs department, contact Bob Kramer, Vice President, Government Affairs, at 202-626-7804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.•