New Year, New Congress, New Opportunity

Every two years, our great country endures a shift as a result of the November election. Most of these shifts, over the course of our great history, have been incremental and small. Midterm elections largely oppose the President, more so in the second term.

Will BrownEvery two years, our great country endures a shift as a result of the November election. Most of these shifts, over the course of our great history, have been incremental and small. Midterm elections largely oppose the President, more so in the second term. The most recent election, last November, was both one of large shift and predicted, some would say historically supported, results.

President Obama’s popularity has significantly declined, making the likelihood for Democrats to endure losses greater. Democratic Senators in states won by 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney significantly outnumbered Republicans running in states carried by President Obama in 2012. This stacked the deck against Democrats from the start, before even considering the historical patterns. The result, as you know, was an overwhelmingly positive night for Republicans.

Here’s a little bit about the 74 new Members of Congress who were sworn in on Jan. 6. Democrats welcome 18 newly elected Members of Congress, 17 to the House and one to the Senate. Republicans welcome 56 newly elected Members of Congress, 13 of which are newly elected Senators. Sixty of the new Members are men, divided into 11 Democrats and 49 Republicans. Fourteen women will take the oath of office for the first time, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. There will be five new African-American Members, three Democrats and two Republicans, and three new Hispanic Members, two Democrats and one Republican. More than 20 percent of the newly elected Members have worn a military uniform.

But the one demographic that I want you to keep in mind specifically is one-quarter. Twenty-five percent of the newly elected members of Congress have absolutely no prior political experience. This means that three and a half percent of the entire Congress is coming to Washington without experience legislating. Nineteen of the 74 new Members of Congress have never held an elected office before. We must get to them, and we must educate them on both the benefits of underground infrastructure and the perils of continuing the path we are on.

Seventy-four new offices present NUCA and our partners with an incredible opportunity to build America’s infrastructure. We need to tell them that America’s water infrastructure is failing at an increasing rate across the country. We need to tell them that in some parts of the country, probably not far from their very own constituents, pipes and infrastructure have been used for as many as 100 years. We need to tell them the costs required to bring our infrastructure up to current standards. We need to tell them what will happen if they do nothing.

But we must also tell them why infrastructure is more than roads and pipes. We must convince them that infrastructure is a constitutionally mandated requirement of Congress. We must show them that investing in infrastructure is an investment in America. We must show them that infrastructure projects create good-paying permanent jobs. We must convince them that infrastructure investment has more than a $3 return on investment for every $1 spent in economic benefit. We must tell them that Americans rely on the infrastructure NUCA builds for their jobs, their transportation, their healthcare and their food. We must show them.

How are we going to do this? It’s very simple: Constant pressure.

NUCA will be ramping up our education of both the Congress and the general public in 2015. To do this, NUCA will be increasing the materials, such as policy White Papers, letters to Congress and Op-eds, we publish and disseminate. For this to be successful, we must spread our message far and wide.

Do you receive or have you recommended a friend, colleague, employee or competitor to join my Political Insiders list? Why not? Political Insiders is the fastest, most concise and user-friendly way to stay on top of NUCA priorities and do something about it. Members who receive the e-mail, sent only when important developments happen, are the most informed and armed to advance NUCA’s priorities, the same priorities that will benefit you and your business.

Have you sent a letter, made a call or sent an e-mail to your Representative and Senator? Why not? Contact with your elected officials does more than just tell them what’s important to you; it also begins a dialogue and builds a relationship with them that is paramount to enacting changes. Priorities like NUCA’s don’t see much objection, but they do compete with new, more exciting or perceived-to-be more important issues that make constant pressure one of our biggest allies.

Have you visited Washington, D.C., for NUCA’s Washington Summit? Why not? The Washington Summit is not just a policy conference and lectures. It is an opportunity to show your elected official what’s really important to you and your business by sitting in a meeting with him or her and having a frank conversation about our industry.

If you answered “no” to any of these three questions, the answer to this last one should be easy: Are you doing everything you can to improve your business in 2015?

Will Brown is NUCA’s Director of Government Affairs.

We Want to Hear from YOU!

NUCA’s Director of Government Affairs Will Brown encourages readers of Utility Contractor to share their views on this and other policy issues discussed in Inside Washington. Please write to him at will@nuca.com.

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