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Delegates visit a changed Capitol Hill

Delegates encountered police fences on Capitol Hill and requirements for Congressional staffers to escort visitors. Here delegation from the Northeast Area walk to a Senate building.

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While life may seem mostly back to normal in the United States following two years of COVID-19 pandemic protocols, that normalcy hasn’t yet reached Capitol Hill, as LEAP delegates discovered when attempting to visit their lawmakers late April. Some were directed to meet over Zoom, some had difficulty getting schedulers to return calls and some discovered new rules for meeting legislators in person.

Those who were able to meet with their members of Congress were still not allowed to roam freely in the hallways or even use the tunnel system to move from building to building as they have in the past. Delegates needed an escort before even being allowed to move through the metal detectors and into the buildings. Whether the cause was the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection that took place on Capitol Hill or the lingering virus threat, Boilermakers lacked easy access to lawmakers at this year’s LEAP Conference.

Even with all the hurdles, delegates managed to meet with their lawmakers or their aides, either virtually or in person, to discuss issues important to the union. Key issues included encouraging passage of the PRO Act, an inclusive “all of the above” energy policy and continued protection of the Jones Act. As the U.S. recovers from a pandemic-induced recession, inflation and supply issues, delegates also lobbied Congressional members on trade and manufacturing policy.