Each year the Salt Lake Chamber visits Washington, D.C. with business, community and state leaders. This trip represents a unique opportunity to connect local leaders to members of our federal delegation and the nation’s capital.
Here are the highlights from the 2016 edition of the trip:
D.C. Trip Day 1
Influence. Effectiveness. Vision. A conversation with Tom Donohue, President of the U.S. Chamber and Senator Orrin Hatch
Our annual trip opened with the unique opportunity to hear from Tom Donohue, President of the U.S. Chamber, as well as Senator Orrin Hatch, president pro tem of the senate and chairman of the powerful senate finance committee.
Our group met in a reception and conference room at the U.S. Chamber offices. Topics discussed during this meeting centered on national issues that affect Utah businesses, specifically:
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Comprehensive tax reform
- Immigration policy
- Regulations on business
“When I went to school I learned about three branches of government. Unfortunately, no one explained the fourth, which is the largest – the regulatory branch.” – Tom Donohue
This gathering provided valuable context regarding national issues facing our country’s business community and economic standing. Perhaps most importantly, it connected Utah leaders to a powerful pro-business advocacy group and provided important time with the state’s Senior Senator.
Dinner at Bobby Van’s
Following our meeting at the U.S. Chamber, our delegation met for dinner at Bobby Vans Steakhouse, providing valuable networking time. We were served a three-course meal that included seafood and salad appetizers, generous meat and fish entrées, and a dessert of either chocolate cake or crème brulee.
D.C. Trip Day 2
Breakfast with Congressman Bishop
The second day of our trip began with a discussion led by Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Congressman Bishop provided insight into topics like water policy, state control of lands, the development of the F-35s, and Bears Ears National Monument.
Tour of Ford’s Theatre: Celebrating 100 Years our National Parks
Following our meeting with Congressman Bishop, our delegation of business leaders toured Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House. These two sites, which are designated as a national park, are the locations where former President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed.
This part of our visit was, for many of our business leaders, both sobering and uplifting. It reminded us of the Lincoln’s leadership in life and the tragedy of his death.
2016 Elections: How Market Research Impacts Elections: A Discussion with Michael Brickman of Luntz Global
After returning to the Grand Hyatt Hotel from Ford’s Theatre, our business leaders received the opportunity to meet with Michael Brickman, a senior director for Luntz Global – a communications consulting firm specializing in expert messaging.
In this meeting Mr. Brickman provided an overview of the respective paths that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would need to travel in order to get to the White House, subsequently sharing focus group research on how the overarching messages of the country’s major presidential candidates are being received publicly and within the Democratic and Republican parties.
Abundance without Attachment: A discussion with Arthur Brooks
Brooks, who is a best-selling author and national thought leader, discussed the negative tone of politics, why contempt is “doing violence” in America, and the importance of advocating for public policy that is geared toward making people necessary.
During this meeting Brooks shared AEI’s two-part mission:
- Make people needed
- Answer anger with love
This is a country built on the backs of ambitious riff-raff. Everything we do in public policy should be geared towards making people necessary.
Our conversation closed with Brooks taking questions from our trip’s attendees and subsequently discussing the importance of happiness, how it can be generated, and what investments we should make personally to maximize happiness.
A Party of Change: Meeting Speaker Paul Ryan
On Capitol Hill our delegation was able to attend a private meeting with U.S. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. During this meeting Speaker Ryan shared his vision for the House of Representatives and the Republican Party – specifically that the Republican Party should be a party of innovative solutions, rather than a party of “no.”
Interview with Gov. Gary Herbert at Café Milano
We closed the second day of our Washington, D.C. trip with a private dinner at Café Milano. Following a meal that included seafood, tenderloin, and a chocolate mousse dessert, our group got a chance to know the personal side of Gov. Gary Herbert.
Being interviewed by Natalie Gochnour – executive director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and the Salt Lake Chamber’s chief economist – Gov. Herbert answered questions ranging from college football play calls to his personal association with William Shatner.
D.C. Trip Day 3
After the Election: Prospects for Business Priorities in Washington | A Discussion with Bruce Josten of the U.S. Chamber
The third day of our trip began with a discussion led by Bruce Josten, an executive vice-president with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Josten shared insights into how the U.S. Chamber’s policy priorities would advance in either a Trump or Clinton Administration.
Josten did not sugar coat the polarization that occurs throughout Washington, D.C., warning that a “lame duck” session of Congress looked very likely following the 2016 election – regardless of the outcome.
The Business Case for Cybersecurity
Following our meeting with Bruce Josten, our delegation discussed the issue of cybersecurity. Matthew Noyes of the U.S. Secret Service and Peter Lord of Oracle led this conversation. Topics included, what types of protections business leaders should consider for their businesses, why the U.S. Secret service is involved in cybersecurity and the resources available following a cyber attack.
Jell-O with Senator Mike Lee
To quote from Senator Mike Lee’s website, Senator Lee “wants his Washington D.C. office to be a place where visitors from Utah feel at home.” That’s why he hosts “Jell-O Wednesdays.” Jell-O is the official state snack of Utah. The state even passed a resolution “that the Senate of the state of Utah recognize Jell-O as a favorite snack food of Utah.”
While holding a special Jell-O Wednesday for group, Senator Lee spoke about the importance of the business community’s presence on Capitol Hill and the work being done by his office to reduce commercial regulatory burdens. Additionally, Senators Sasse (Nebrasak) Flake (Arizona), and Gardner (Colorado) stopped in to share their insights with us.
Following our discussion, Senator Lee presented Lane Beattie, the Chamber’s president and CEO, with a Senate Commemoration of the Chamber’s recent 5-star accreditation.
A Discussion with Congress: Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Mia Love
After passing through the underground tunnel connecting the Hart Building of the Senate and the Rayburn Building of the House, our delegation of business leaders had the opportunity to meet separately with Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Congresswoman Mia Love.
The intimate setting of provided by a Committee Room in the Rayburn House Office Building allowed our group to discuss current happenings in Washington, such as:
- How Donald Trump’s character is affecting Washington, D.C.
- The proceedings surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email investigation
- What Utah’s delegation has accomplished over the last two years
Dinner at the Caucus Room
After our visit to Capitol Hill, business leaders boarded a charted bus to The Caucus Room, an upscale steakhouse that has served host to important meetings.
During our meal, participants of the trip conversed about poverty and how to find real and lasting solutions to that problem.
D.C. Trip Day 4
Hail to the Chiefs: A Discussion with the Utah Federal Delegation’s Chiefs of Staff
The fourth day of our Washington, D.C. Trip started with a panel featuring the Chiefs of Staff from Utah’s Federal Delegation.
These hard-working staff members described what their positions entail, the difficult, but satisfying challenges associated with life on Capitol Hill, and how they hope to strengthen the relationship between their offices and the Utah Business Community. Each chief of staff mentioned two specific ideas:
- Utah’s Delegation, as a whole, “punches above its weight.” This happens, they shared, because of the powerful positions and committees that each member of the delegation sits.
- Utah’s Delegation is more closely aligned in their federal priorities than most states, allowing for greater accomplishment.
Guarding our Nation’s Capitol
Following our meeting with the chiefs of staff, we had the privilege to hear from Major General Errol R. Schwartz of the Washington, D.C. National Guard. Major General Schwartz was appointed in 2008 and re-appointed in 2009 by Presidents George W. Bush and Barrack Obama respectively.
During our discussion Major General Schwartz described his responsibilities, how he interacts with President Obama, and how he works to keep millions of people safe during major events like presidential inaugurations.
Immigration and the 2016 Elections
Ali Noorani, who heads the National Immigration Forum, spoke to our group about the impacts of immigration on the 2016 elections. He shared that Utah leaders, through the Utah Compact, have led the nation in smart immigration reform.
Towards the end of his remarks, Noorani describe the important role religious leaders play in changing the perceptions associated with immigration reform. He finished by quoting a passage from a recent LDS General Conference address delivered by Elder Patrick Kearon on refugees, stating that thought leadership like that makes a marked difference on such a difficult issue.
For your Eyes Only: Global and National Hot Spots
Our concluding speakers for the trip were Representative Chris Stewart and Damon Nelson, Staff Director of the House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. Nelson shared his thoughts straightforwardly, starting with, “The world is on fire.”
He continued by describing that, by virtue of the committee that he and Representative Stewart sit on, they are frequently briefed on terrorist and military activity throughout the world. They receive classified information on things like the material found on Hillary Clinton’s email server, the nuclear activities of North Korea, and the movements of Isis.
Representative Stewart ended with a stern, yet positive thought. He explained that America is still the most powerful military force in the world, but that if the nation does not take these things seriously, we find ourselves (and many currently do find themselves) in an extremely difficult situation.
Follow Our Trip!
To learn more about the Chamber’s annual Washington, D.C. Trip, follow Salt Lake Chamber social media and search #SLChamberDCTrip