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Fall Lobby Days 2023

GMA News | February 1, 2024 | By: Fred C. Chuck and Bryan Gee

GMA’s Fall 2023 Lobby Days coincided with the end (November 17) of the first 2023 continuing resolution (CR) that was passed in September ’23 to prevent a shutdown of the U.S. federal government. We were anticipating an exciting week in Washington, D.C., but as we gathered for our preparation meeting the evening before our day on the Hill, the new speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson, R–LA, managed to gain enough support to pass another CR through January 19 and February 2, 2024 (two deadlines for different federal programs). This was a welcome relief for the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), as it meant we were more likely to have productive meetings with senators and representatives and they would not be getting called out of our meetings.  

Our government relations firm, Whitmer and Worrall (W&W), with the tremendous efforts of a new crew, were able to establish 18 congressional office meetings with 10 senators and eight representatives. In addition to the W&W staff, 15 GMA members (both executive council and general members) and three Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC) board members participated. Shortly before this fall fly-in, GMA and ECTC established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to allow ECTC to formally join in and utilize the legislative strength that GMA has developed over the past 18 years.  

During those 18 years, GMA has been able to gain direct geosynthetic language into the three most important infrastructure-related reauthorizations: the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the Highway Trust Fund (FAST Act) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. The WRDA reauthorizes every two years, with the next cycle scheduled for 2024, and while our language has remained the same for the past six cycles, we are currently working to further expand the geosynthetic language.  

The FAA reauthorization is currently included in the ongoing CRs to prevent the government shutdown, and we continue to promote the inclusion of research and/or a center of excellence studying the use of geosynthetics to extend the current 20-year designs to 40 years. The Fall ’23 Lobby Days provided our members the opportunity to inform congressional offices of several key concerns for the geosynthetic industry, including the need for expanded clarity on the Build America, Buy America (BABA) provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), an understanding of how various departments (including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], the U.S. Department of Transportation [USDOT], the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA], the U.S. Department of Interior and others) will implement the provisions and what will be the compliance process for BABA. 

In addition to our lobby efforts on Capitol Hill, several members of the GMA leadership team used the D.C. visit to meet and establish key relations with the Office of Infrastructure for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

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