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This Just In

ECA Legislative Action Day Sees Record-Breaking Turnout in 2024 on Capitol Hill

MADDY RYLEY, MANAGING EDITOR
ECA LAD 2024 photo - CT

WASHINGTON D.C. — Professionals in the business events industry came together on Capitol Hill May 30 for the annual Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA) Legislative Action Day. This year marked the largest edition of the day of advocacy to date, with many of the event’s founders in attendance as well.

“ECA Legislative Action Day was a remarkable example of what happens when the industry comes together to advocate and tell our story to policymakers,” said Tommy Goodwin, Vice President of ECA. “Our industry is blessed with some incredible advocates, and ECA is privileged to be able to bring them together on Capitol Hill to talk about their incredible work and how Congress can help increase their impact on communities nationwide going forward.”

During more than 110 meetings planned with policymakers and congressional staffers from 25 states, industry advocates spoke about legislation that would impact visa wait times and the next generation of the workforce — both critical issues to the trade show and exhibition industry.

For the issue of long visa wait times, industry professionals encouraged elected officials to support S.2632, the Visa Processing Improvement Act; H.R.5127, the Visitor Visa Wait Time Reduction Act; and H.R.7263, the VISITOR Act.

All three of these acts aim to reduce the processing time for visas through a variety ways including providing the State Department with authority to waive in-person interviews for certain low-risk, pre-vetted applicants from Global Entry countries (S.2632), require the State Department to outline specific steps to address delays at diplomatic posts where the wait times for visitor visas exceeds 100 days (H.R.5127), and allow greater flexibility for the State Department to use the money from passport and visa fees to address the backlog in processing tourist visas at consular posts overseas (H.R.7263).

In meetings with representatives, Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), explained that her organization is feeling the effect of long visa wait times in the U.S. She explained that members from Africa, especially Nigeria, are having a difficult time obtaining visas to attend SWE’s U.S. events. She also mentioned that international members had an easier time obtaining visas to travel to Germany for a SWE event, highlighting the U.S.’ potential loss of competitive edge if the issue persists.

Related. Lippman Connects ECEF Brings Leaders to Washington D.C. for Information Sharing

The advocacy groups also focused on the next-generation workforce with the call for support for S.161, the JOBS Act; S.722, the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act; H.R.6585, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act; and H.R.1477, the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act.

The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would provide more flexibility in how Americans can use the 529 savings plans to cover the costs of training, credentialing programs and other kinds of skills programs. ECA’s main point with this legislation is that it turns what is now college savings plans into career savings plans for those who are not pursuing college and university degrees.

The Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act would allow for federal Pell Grants to be used for high-quality, shorter-term job training and credentialling, while the JOBS Act in the Senate also focuses on expanding the eligibility for the Pell Grant program.

Next year, ECA Legislative Action Day will take place on May 29, held in conjunction with the Lippman Connects Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum, taking place on May 28.

Reach Tommy Goodwin at tommy.goodwin@exhibitionsconferencesalliance.org

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