THE 117TH CONGRESS was sworn in on January 3, 2021. In its first week in session, two pivotal events occurred: Democrats won both U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, flipping the Senate to Democratic control with a mere 50-50 majority (Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as President of the Senate, acts as a tiebreaker and thus creates the Democratic majority); and a mob broke into the U.S. Capitol, threatening to disrupt the cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transition of power. What does TIA’s advocacy look like in a deeply polarized government which, for now, is controlled by Democrats?
Advocacy is a multi-layered process made up with equal parts of relationships, education and persuasion. We build relationships using old-fashioned shoe leather, the TIAPAC, and our own and our members’ long-time network of contacts. We educate Members of Congress, their staffs, and Administration officials about what the 3PL industry is, what we do, and who we are. And we persuade those same audiences using allies and coalitions as needed, targeting our outreach to key Members, and providing them with information that makes a compelling case for our perspective.
We know in this Congress that it is essential to work with both sides. And in a polarized government, we want to work to craft solutions rather than magnify division between the two parties. While we have genuine concerns about what a Democratic sweep (House, Senate and White House control) will mean for our members on some issues, particularly the independent contractor model, we should be able to work with both sides on common sense solutions to issues like the Motor Carrier Safety Selection Standard, that would improve safety on the nation’s highways by establishing due diligence requirements of those that select motor carriers; or amending the FMCSA safety rating process for motor carriers by shifting from an outdated physical audit system to one based on data. And we will continue to protect broker proprietary information.
Chris Burroughs, who ably leads our TIA Government Affairs team, knows the importance of relationship-building, education and persuasion. The effort requires multiple touch points, and we want to magnify his reach this year. One way will be to host a “Broker 101” presentation on the Hill to explain our industry to new Congressional staff. We also have begun to distribute TIA’s Legislative Core Principles to all transportation staff and the U.S. DOT transition team, and will ramp up our emphasis on the TIAPAC as a tool to get to know members and for them to get to know us.
And finally, we will collaborate with like-minded associations on larger advocacy goals, like a transportation bill. On such big, complex legislation, we need a large coalition of the willing. I have offered to be deployed wherever helpful, and to deploy our members to provide their perspectives from their own experience.
These efforts take time, resources, and manpower. We are committed to representing you and the issues that affect your businesses and bottom line. We want to speak with one voice, and we want that voice to be loud. If you would like to be involved in one of our policy conferences (Highway, Air Freight, International and Intermodal), we welcome your contributions and your firepower. As the 117th Congress figures out what kind of Congress it wants to be, TIA will be there to ensure as many members as possible hear from us, know who we are, and appreciate our role in the economy and the supply chain.