The first time I participated in NAA’s Lobby Day, I arrived at the Capitol for a day of Senate and House meetings. I had absolutely no idea there were actual Senate and House buildings. I sort of assumed everything was conducted within the dome.
Yeah, I’m not really a political person. (And, in this case, perhaps not even an educated person.)
The point is that if I, of all people, can have a successful day on the Hill, anyone can.
Yesterday was my fourth Lobby Day and my second time wearing appropriate footwear for the occasion. Thanks Payless! For those of you who have never participated in Lobby Day and are perhaps a little nervous about meeting with your Senators and members of Congress, here’s a sneak peek of a day on the Hill.
It’s not that intimidating—you’ll see!
7:45 a.m. – Arrive at the actual Senate building I need to be in, and not the entrance of the Capitol. Go through security—slightly embarrassed by the contents of my purse/personal storage container—without any wait at all. Pays to arrive early. Immediately search the hallway for some sort of Starbucks directory. With none to be found, discover Wolfgang Puck coffee vending machine in basement. $1 for a 12 oz. cup of surprisingly delicious caffeine—yes, please.
8:30 a.m. – First meeting with members of the Apartment Association of New Mexico (AANM) and Senator Udall. Coffee and bagels are served as several different groups from New Mexico mingle and discuss their various issues and causes. I resist bagel.
Senator Udall arrives shortly thereafter and spends a few minutes with each group before giving a brief quiz on former New Mexico senators. I receive an F. Senator Udall has to leave, but AANM members meet with one of his staffers and share concerns regarding immigration reform and GSE reform. All concerns are warmly received.
9:30 a.m. – Coffee has yet to hit bloodstream, but make my way to Dirksen building through the Senate tunnels. Every political TV show known to man is running through my mind.
9:35 a.m. – Join Arkansas Apartment Association members for a meeting with Senator Pryor. Senator’s staffer informs Arkansas that their timing is “exquisite,” as an agreement on a GSE reform bill was reached the day before.
Make note to re-watch Schoolhouse Rock’s “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”
10:30 a.m. – Begin wishing I had paid more instead of going to Payless. Flats are abusing feet, but I press on.
11 a.m. – After a productive meeting with our Texas members and Senator Cruz’s staffers, visit the other Udall, Senator Udall of Colorado. They really should have different last names.
11:30 a.m. Walk over to the nearby Hyatt Regency for lunch with Lobby Day participants.
Noon – Senator Mitch McConnell and Congresswoman Maxine Waters share their thoughts on the Washington, D.C., political landscape and the multifamily housing industry. I develop carpel tunnel while furiously jotting down quotes, making it painful to then eat my sandwich.
1:45 p.m. – Arrive at Congressman Hudson’s office with North Carolina members (who, by the way, are ridiculously friendly people). Staffers ask that we meet Rep. Hudson in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol (finally, I’m supposed to be in the Capitol!), as he has just finished voting.
Discuss my excitement over the return of the Charlotte Hornets during walk in the tunnels and hear mention of possible Nancy Pelosi sighting, a name even I recognize. Someone notices I own a flip phone. Multiple questions ensue—as does a great meeting with Rep. Hudson.
3 p.m. – Head back to Cannon for meeting with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) and California Congresswoman Bass. She’s wearing a delightful purple blazer, which I appreciate.
Housing finance reform and immigration reform are discussed. On the side of GSE reform, Bass says she is in full agreement that multifamily must be viewed separately from single-family when evaluating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
3:40 p.m. – Evaluate flats-induced foot damage and call it a day. Was only able to attend a handful of meetings—there were more than 215 NAA member meetings in all!—but saw firsthand why participating in Lobby Day really matters.
5:00 p.m. – Watch “House of Cards.”
For more Lobby Day—and Capitol Conference—coverage, check out the May issue of units Magazine.
Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).