Lobbyists, including NATE: the Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, want to be free to roam the halls of Capitol Hill again. They want their members to have the opportunity to do the same.
That’s why NATE has joined more than 200 other trade groups in signing a letter to that effect to House and Senate leadership from a trade association for advocacy groups, the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics. “Even though the Centers for Disease Control has issued new guidance on masking and infections are down across the National Capital Region, there are still the security concerns about the Capitol and congressional office buildings,” the lobbyists say in the letter. “We have developed a proposal that could enable Congress to re-open for public visits, which would help ensure that people remain healthy and safe.”
Currently, lobbyists may conduct in-person meetings on Capitol Hill, as long as a congressional aide signs them in and escorts them around the buildings, reports Roll Call. But discussions are underway to reopen as lobbyists press for renewed access for themselves and their tour groups. The letter urged congressional leaders to allow people without appointments to get into House and Senate office buildings that were first closed during the coronavirus pandemic and have remained closed amid heightened security concerns in the wake of the January 6, 2021 riot.
The lobbyists are asking for Congress to open to the public “without appointments” by July 11. “What better message to send to the public that we are turning the corner on two years of very difficult and challenging times for this country than by announcing that Capitol Hill is again open to the public?,” they write, seeking a meeting to discuss reopening Congressional office buildings in a way they believe is safe for all with security measures they say are used in several state legislatures.
Todd Washam, NATE Director of Government Relations and Wireless Industry Network, told Inside Towers: “NATE has been working with Congress through both in-person and virtual meetings. However, it continues to be a challenge to schedule in-person meetings with members of Congress, a fact that has led to many groups pushing back congressional fly-ins and lobby days. We are eager for Congress to fully reopen Capitol Hill for in-person meetings so we can bring NATE members to Washington, D.C. to advocate for our industry.”
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief