UPDATE: Rail Passengers DC Meeting Confirmed For June
March 12, 2020
New Dates Are Confirmed: June 21-June 24
By Jim Mathews / President & CEO
On Monday I told all of you that we were postponing our annual Spring Advocacy Summit and Day on the Hill from March until possibly mid-May in response to the spread of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. I promised we would get more information to you as soon as we possibly could.
As of this afternoon, our partners at the Embassy Suites hotel in Old Town Alexandria have agreed to allow us to move our meeting, intact, from March 29-April 1 to June 21-June 24. They also agreed to honor the discounted rate we negotiated for March.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We will provide a new direct link to our discounted room block at the Embassy Suites, and you will need to make a new reservation to receive the negotiated discount and be part of our new block. We’ll put that up here in the blogs, and also on the Hotel Reservations page in our Events area. Please check back there often for the new link. The hotel is telling us it will take a few days before that link is available, so please be patient!
If you did not register the first time around and want to join us in June, we’re thrilled to have you! We’ll be re-opening the conference registration link soon, along with the new hotel link.
WHAT ABOUT OUR DAY ON THE HILL ACTIVITIES?
As our VP for Policy Sean Jeans-Gail told all of you in an email Wednesday, we will move forward with the March 31st Passenger Rail Day on the Hill but we will make it more of a “Virtual” Day on the Hill. If you have already scheduled meetings with your members of Congress or their staffs, we’ll be asking you to change those meetings to scheduled phone calls or visits to your local district offices…or both!
WHY NOT JUST WAIT ON EVERYTHING UNTIL JUNE?
The short answer is that even with the coronavirus crisis, the legislative gears are still turning on several important pieces of legislation. We’re doing everything we can, with the current constraints, to keep your seat at the table and make sure our voices are still heard at an exceptionally important time for passenger rail.
Turning your scheduled in-person meetings into scheduled phone calls or visits to your local district office is a great compromise, and one the congressional staffs have already told us they would very much welcome.
Between now and the end of June, members of Congress and their staffs will be taking up:
- The fiscal 2021 spending bills that appropriate money. That means spending levels for Amtrak, passenger rail grant programs, and transit. We’ve been sharing our ideas with key staff members and leaders, and we’ve got great momentum going.
- The five-year FAST Act reauthorization. We’ve had a lot of positive reception for our policy recommendations and funding structures for the rail title of the FAST Act-replacement, which is currently being drafted in the House. We can’t go silent now.
- Infrastructure and Stimulus. With a flagging economy, leaders in both the Senate and the House are discussing using an infrastructure bill to revitalize our economy. We need to make sure rail is part of the conversation.
When June is over, they’re likely to shut the doors, turn off the lights and go home to campaign. So our window is between now and the end of June.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Why? Because all of us are concerned for the health, safety and well-being of our members -- a large share of whom fall into the risk groups identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our mission must go on, and we can’t afford to sit it out and wait. But we also have to adapt and keep up the fight in ways that keep all of you safe and healthy. Re-working our in-person March meetings into a combination of electronic briefings and conference calls keeps the pressure on where we need it. June will be our way of sealing the deal.
We need all of you to rally around and help make this work. Congress needs to know we're still here and still fighting!
Please, everyone, be safe and take good care.
"We would not be in the position we’re in if it weren’t for the advocacy of so many of you, over a long period of time, who have believed in passenger rail, and believe that passenger rail should really be a part of America’s intermodal transportation system."
Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation
2011 Spring Council Meeting