By Cara Coon, Public Affairs Director
Last week, leaders from across our region took the advocacy show on the road to our nation’s capital for GSI’s annual Washington D.C. Fly-In. Here is the trip by the numbers:
- 30 Spokane leaders attended
- One Embassy visit – United Kingdom
- Three Chief of Staff briefings (Cantwell, Murray, McMorris Rodgers)
- One gubernatorial briefing (Inslee)
- Five Congressional briefings (Rep. Fulcher [ID], Rep. Newhouse, Rep. Heck, Sen. Cantwell, Sen. Murray, Rep. McMorris Rodgers)
- One Pentagon briefing
- One U.S. Chamber of Commerce briefing lunch
- Two agency briefings – Dept of Labor and HUD
- One White House briefing
Our visit to the Embassy is always a particular favorite and this year was no different. We were greeted warmly at the British Embassy and received a briefing on Brexit and on Global Trade and Economic Development from the UK perspective. There are many logistics on the Brexit front and we were there on an important day – Prime Minister Theresa May was requesting an extension from the EU, which we later found out was granted; the likely last day for Parliament to agree on a Brexit plan is Oct. 31, 2019. What remains to be seen is if the country will use the time to hold another referendum, which could further complicate an already complicated issue.
We met with several members of our Congressional delegation, including Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep. Denny Heck, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senators Cantwell and Murray. All of the discussions included USMCA (replaces NAFTA), tariffs, GME slots, housing/homeless crisis, Ex-Im Bank reauthorization & quorum, workforce development and apprenticeship and increasing the Passenger Facility Charge to improve airport infrastructure and security.
GSI CEO Todd Mielke led a small group to the Pentagon for four meetings that included discussions around GME, Nurse Licensure Compact, Fairchild Air Force Base, which includes housing, water and survival school resources.
Our two agency briefings – by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor Pat Pizzella and by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson – included discussion of new overtime pay rules, housing, EnVision centers and opportunity zones (Spokane County has 11!) to increase economic development.
And finally at the executive offices of the White House, we were briefed on both the Pledge for America’s Workers (a workforce initiative led by Ivanka Trump) and again about trade, including USMCA. There was robust discussion about removing the 232 tariffs alongside approving USMCA, but no agreement on how that will be navigated, as the 232 tariffs provide leverage for the trade agreements.