WASHINGTON, D.C. – Greater Spokane Inc. hosted nearly 30 area leaders from business, health care, higher education, and local government in D.C. for three days of advocacy during the annual D.C. Fly-In presented this year by MultiCare. Meetings started over breakfast and ran late into the evening each day, keeping the delegation busy discussing critical issues facing the Spokane region.
Tuesday kicked off the three-day event with an evening reception and presentation hosted at K&L Gates. Attendees were briefed on the meeting agenda and armed with the resources they needed to be effective, including a copy of the 2022 GSI Federal Agenda. Meetings got rolling at 8:00 the next morning with members of Congress and staffers to discuss, among other issues, the lack of medical residencies in the West, access to affordable housing for our servicemembers on and around Fairchild Air Force Base, and critical transportation funding for at-grade railroad crossings in Spokane Valley. The Spokane Airport “TREX” terminal expansion program was top-of-mind for a meeting with Congressman Rick Larsen (D- WA) from Arlington, who leads the aviation subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Wednesday ended with the Inland Northwest Grand Reception, a chance for the delegation to gather with friends and colleagues based in D.C. and for Spokane leaders to mingle with hardworking staff from eastern Washington and northern Idaho offices. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R- WA) joined the group to share some remarks and connect on policy in between votes on the house floor.
Spokane advocates started the next day with another breakfast meeting with staff from Representative Derek Kilmer’s (D- WA) office to discuss needed fixes to VA home loans to keep the program competitive in the current housing market for buyers who have served our country. The delegation then hurried to a meeting at the Embassy of Japan with Cathy McMorris Rodgers to discuss reduced trade barriers, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) agreement, and newly lowered tariffs on Washington exports like wheat, cheese, and wine among other collaborative goals between the two countries. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) then joined the group to engage on priorities shared across eastern Washington, including affordable clean energy and the critical importance of agriculture and the American food supply chain.
Thursday’s keynote lunch speaker was our own congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who leads Republicans in the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has authority over a broad range of federal policy. The Congresswoman shared priorities for the committee and discussed the issues she is tackling in leadership including healthcare, energy, and trade while championing important Community Project Spending appropriations for the region.
The long-awaited Inslee/Murray report on the costs to replace the benefits of the lower Snake River dams was released an hour before the delegation received a briefing from senior staffers Liz Payne and Sean O’Brien on the policy and politics of the debate around the dams. The United States Department of Transportation finished off the trip with a roundtable discussion covering the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and increases to programmatic spending within the Department that can be invested in projects right here in Washington.
GSI thanks all attendees of the 2022 D.C. Fly-In for being outstanding advocates for the region. Everything accomplished on behalf of Spokane and Eastern Washington is due to the tireless work of leaders who give their time, energy, and resources to tackle the issues and bring awareness of unique needs in our communities to Washington D.C.