WASHINGTON, D.C. — There have been trade show industry legislation developments on Capitol Hill for the ongoing issues the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA), associations and show producers have been advocating for regarding visa delays and the future workforce.
Industry in Action
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), producers of CONEXPO-CON/AGG, The Utility Expo and World of Asphalt Show and Conference, took to Capitol Hill to advocate for legislation that would benefit the trade show industry.
“These issues support the ability for buyers and seller to attend face-to-face business events,” AEM Senior Vice President Exhibitions & Marketing Nicole Hallada said. “You can see where reducing visa wait times is crucial for fostering genuine connections with markets our members might not otherwise interact with. Additionally enacting legislation that makes it easier for people to enter our industry ensures we’ll have enough workforce to put these events on.”
AEM is no stranger to lobbying, as the association has pushed for pro-manufacturing policies, investment in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and modernizing the permitting process, among other issues relevant to the equipment manufacturing industry.
“AEM’s best-in-class exhibitions serve as a uniquely valuable platform to bring the equipment manufacturing industry together and facilitate connections between our members and their customers. We want to ensure our voice is heard on the Hill regarding issues impacting face-to-face business events,” Hallada said. “Lawmakers were very open to discussions about key federal policy priorities and understood the vital role the industry plays in supporting the U.S. economy.”
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) launched Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition that advocates for The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act. The coalition, which has about 600 members since launching publicly, encourages the passage of the act through securing cosponsors in the House and Senate.
There have been two new bills introduced addressing visa delays. The House of Representatives reintroduced the Visitor Visa Wait Time Reduction Act. This piece of legislation would make the State Department address delays exceeding 100 days. In the Senate, a bipartisan bill, the Visa Processing Improvement Act, was introduced that would improve transparency and accountability, revise interview waiver eligibility, increase consular office capacity and flexibility and improve the overall service experience.
The House also proposed a bill that includes $275 million to help the State Department address the visa wait times issue and reduce backlogs for passports and visa delays.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the JOBS Act, which was a key point of advocacy for ECA Legislative Action Day, when Congress returns. The JOBS Act, if passed, would allow Pell Grant funds to be used for university and non-college skills-based training.
“Since Legislative Action Day, we have seen tremendous progress on our policy priorities on Capitol Hill,” ECA Vice President Tommy Goodwin said. “The industry asked Congress to focus on visa delays, and we have seen new bills introduced and oversight hearings held. Industry leaders and advocates asked for progress on future-workforce issues, and we are seeing new coalitions introduced and a bill mark-up on the calendar. This shows that our proactive and engaged presence in Washington, DC and beyond is working.”
According to Goodwin, in the last few weeks, 22 representatives have cosponsored the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce.