NWFA members are well-aware of the Hardwood Federation and our efforts in Washington, D.C. to enact federal laws, regulations, and policies that support the U.S. hardwood industry and defend against policies that could hurt us. NWFA staff, leadership, and members continue to be great supporters of these efforts, certainly, in terms of financial support, but much more importantly in terms of educating policymakers in Congress.
The Hardwood Federation Political Action Committee (HFPAC) is one of the most important tools we use to make our voices heard. The HFPAC is financed by personal contributions – not company dollars – from hardwood industry leaders. The Federation uses this money to contribute to the campaign funds of Senators and Congressmen on both sides of the aisle who support the industry. Our goal is to ensure those who understand our businesses, the impact we have on local communities, and the environmental benefits of our products stay in their positions to help us at the federal level.
HFPAC dollars both open doors and help us establish and maintain long-term relationships with members of Congress and their staff. Washington is a town built on relationships, and the more tools you have to build strong foundations, the more successful you will be.
Although funding in 2020 was lower than in past years, the Federation carefully distributed available funding to bolster campaign chests of more than 100 candidates. We are pleased to report that the monies were well-spent, and most of those campaigns we contributed to were successful.
In the 2019-2020 election cycle, HFPAC supported 12 Senators and 96 members of the House. The Federation doesn’t look at party. Rather, we take into consideration how well candidates understand the hardwood industry, how they have supported the hardwood industry in their state and in federal policy initiatives, what House and Senate Committees they sit on, and how those committees impact hardwood-related legislative measures. And, of course, we take a close look at individuals who serve as leaders on important committees.
Of note in our list of recently supported members of Congress, you will find some very powerful and hardwood industry helpful women. Like many industries and professions across the spectrum, Congress is no longer the male-dominated landscape that it once was. As it stands, there will be at least 141 women seated in Congress – of 535 potential combined seats – representing at least 27 percent of the House and 24 percent of the Senate.
We have used the PAC to educate these members and support them over the years, as they have supported us. A sampling of some of the women in Congress we have supported who now wield gavels and great power heading into the 117th Congress includes:
- Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) – potential Chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – outgoing Chair of the Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) Committee
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – potential Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3) – incoming Chair of the Appropriations Committee
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC, 5) – Ranking Member of the House Education and Labor Committee
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5) – incoming Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee
- Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA, 7) – Chair of the House Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee
- Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN, 2) – House Ways and Means Committee
This is an impressive, robust bi-partisan group that wields a good deal of clout on committees of importance to the hardwood industry.
Overall, it was a good year for the HFPAC. However, it is important to remember it is not just about picking winners and avoiding losers. Rather, it is much more about establishing long-lasting relationships and educating members across the political spectrum.
A big thank you to those of you who have supported the HFPAC over the years. You are vital to our efforts on Capitol Hill. It is satisfying to see our supported members retain their seats in Congress and remain in our corner. We look forward to working with them – and you – in 2021.
Dana Lee Cole is Executive Director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the United States and acts as the industry’s advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.