As we move closer to the mid-term elections on November 8 and the window to pass specific bills begins to narrow, the hardwood industry is focusing on longer-term legislative goals. Taking steps to assure that the 118th Congress, which will convene in January 2023, includes a significant number of members who will fight for the hardwood sector is at the top of the list.
This is where the funds raised through the Hardwood Federation Political Action Committee (HFPAC) come into play. HFPAC dollars are personal contributions from members of the industry used to support campaigns within the parameters of Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, of those members of Congress who can and do support the industry’s agenda. The HFPAC is one of the important tools we use to gain access, share insight and perspective, build connections, and support our Congressional champions. If you have thought about supporting the HFPAC in the past, but have not yet done so, now is an excellent time to finally take action.
The 2022 election cycle seems to have more potential for change than most, with dozens of incumbents choosing to retire rather than hit the campaign trail this fall. That said, the industry message remains the same.
During events that support campaigns for the industry’s proven champions, the Hardwood Federation delivers four key messages as part of every conversation:
- Forest products are part of the climate solution and must be counted in federal carbon accounting programs.
- Tax and regulatory reforms must be favorable to growing and sustaining the hardwood industry and facilitate passing family-owned businesses to the next generation.
- Infrastructure and transportation legislation must address barriers to shipping over land and water.
- Healthy export markets are key to industry success.
The Federation advocates for a broad swath of issues, and we need to continually build relationships with lawmakers from diverse political and geographical backgrounds. Policy impacting our sector rarely is passed on a partisan level. Leaders, committee members, and legislative champions come in many forms and political leanings. The HFPAC Board of Directors and staff strive to identify those members of Congress most likely to assist on both sides of the aisle to increase our chances of success. To illustrate the diversity of our PAC activity and support, below we highlight a few of the incumbents the Federation has met with recently during PAC fundraising events, all of whom have a demonstrated track record of leadership on our industry’s key issues:
- In late 2021, the Hardwood Federation attended PAC meetings with both Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR), who currently serve as the chair and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, respectively. These legislative veterans are longtime champions of farm bill programs that support the industry, including export promotion funding. Regardless of which party takes control of the Senate in 2023, the Federation will have a champion in both party leadership seats. We will continue to build our relationships with both offices in 2022.
- In late January, the Federation met with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime friend of the industry and senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. If Democrats retain their majority in November, there is a strong possibility he could assume chairmanship of the committee, providing a platform for the industry’s carbon agenda. In the event Republicans take over the House, he could become the committee’s ranking member and bring a deep understanding of the issue to the minority side of the table.
- In February, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) assured the Federation and industry allies that he will prioritize measures that provide relief from transportation bottlenecks. Gallagher’s seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee assures that he will be an effective advocate on this key issue.
- In early March, the Federation talked with Rep. Jim Comer (R-KY), currently the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee who could ascend to the chair’s seat depending on the outcome in November. During the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made an appearance and shared insights regarding Senate action for the balance of 2022, including budget negotiations, and the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
- Also in March, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) told the Hardwood Federation that she wants to lead the charge on policy measures assuring that climate-related programs account for carbon captured in finished wood products.
- In April, the Federation co-hosted another event for longtime ally Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA). Thompson currently is the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee and most likely will become chair in the event Republicans assume the majority in the fall. An expert on the importance of federal forest management, particularly on the Allegheny National Forest, Thompson also is a strong advocate for the wood products industry and understands the environmental benefit links between forest management, wood product manufacturing, and sustainability.
With so much at stake in 2022, it is the perfect time to get involved in the political process and make your voice heard. The HFPAC enjoys the support of many industry leaders, but the issues we face are growing in number and complexity; we need the backing of many more. If you are a member of the Hardwood Federation and would like to learn more about how to support pro-industry candidates through HFPAC, please visit hardwoodfederation.com.
Dana Lee Cole is the executive director of 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 advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.