American Boating Congress starts in D.C.

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WASHINGTON — The American Boating Congress opens today for two days of discussion on legislative issues and lobbying on behalf of the marine industry.

Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, this year’s event also features co-hosts representing a wide variety of industry stakeholders.

They are: Marine Retailers Association of the Americas; Center for Coastal Conservation; South Carolina Marine Association; National Marine Distributors Association; Boy Scouts of America/Sea Scouts; Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston; U.S. Superyacht Association; Association of Marina Industries; Michigan Boating Industries Association; National Marine Bankers Association; American Boat Builders & Repairers Association; and the States Organization for Boating Access.

Today’s schedule includes board and committee meetings for some of the co-hosts, a lunch featuring speaker Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and a BoatPAC reception.

Wednesday morning’s agenda includes sessions with:

• Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service

• Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

• Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

• Francisco J. Sanchez, undersecretary of commerce for international trade

• Neil Newhouse, Public Opinion Strategies

• Greg Ip, U.S. economics editor at The Economist

Perhaps the most critical component of the ABC is meetings with lawmakers and their staffs on Capitol Hill, which take place Wednesday in the late morning and early afternoon. Among the issues expected to be discussed are E15, any proposed tax issues and the reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

“Whether it’s that boating is a uniquely American manufacturing industry, with 83 percent of boats sold in the U.S., made in the U.S., or that three out of four boat owners having an annual household income less than $100,000 — we have an important story to tell,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Sharing our story on Capitol Hill this week during ABC is a critical element of our industry’s advocacy efforts and will go a long way toward an accurate understanding of the middle-class Americans who make up recreational boating and the positive impact we have across the country.”

Look for live reports from ABC on Trade Only Today.

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