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Congressional Boating Caucus: How important is it?

The announcement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., will join Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., as co-chairs of the Congressional Boating Caucus was welcomed news. It’s timely, then, to look at what the caucus means to all of us in the industry.

“Its importance cannot be overstated,” said Jim Currie, the NMMA’s legislative director. “The Boating Caucus is a strong advocate for policies that will grow boating opportunities and it can also be a line of defense against proposals that could damage our industry.”

Founded in 1989, the Boating Caucus is an informal, bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives. It seeks to improve economic conditions that negatively impact our industry and protect our nation’s waterways for the nation’s estimated 83 million boaters. It also can address boating safety issues, as well as create international trade opportunities. Caucus members recognize that our industry is uniquely American-made, with 83 percent of the powerboats sold in the United States manufactured here. We’re also one of few positive exporting industries.

Numbers are important to the caucus — the more, the stronger. There were 130 caucus members — 21 senators and 109 House members — when the 112th Congress wrapped up last December, an increase from 111 members in the previous Congress.
With the new 113th Congress now in place, three senators left to retire or lost re-election and 18 representatives left Washington. Two representatives were elected to the Senate (including Donnelly, who was previously the Democratic co-chairman in the House.)

“Were starting 2013 with 109 caucus members,” Currie explained. “That’s 20 senators and 89 representatives. Moreover, we have just sent letters to the newest members of Congress, informing them of the caucus and its purpose and inviting them to join.”

Four representatives resigned from the caucus at the start of the new Congress. They are House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Mike Conaway, R-Texas; Rick Larsen, D-Wash.; and Jim McDermott, D-Wash. However, Reps. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., are joining Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, as the newest members to join the caucus.

What can we all do? There are two things we can do that will have a positive impact.
First, check to see whether your local representatives are already in the Boating Caucus. If they are not, it’s easy to go to their individual websites and send an email asking them to join because boating is economically important to you and your community. Click here to find out whether your representatives are already caucus members.

Second, plan to participate in the American Boating Congress May 8-9 in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together all segments of the boating industry — dealers, manufacturers, accessory suppliers, marina operators, association executives and media members — and presents a strong front on issues that impact our businesses. ABC is our industry’s single most important legislative effort of the year.

Click here to find out more about or register for American Boating Congress.

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