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NEHA in Washington, DC, 2023

March 2, 2023

Our sixth annual Hill Day was held on Thursday, February 23. The NEHA Board of Directors and several of our members met with 53 members of the U.S. Congress from both the House of Representative and Senate and both parties who serve on the appropriations committees. These individuals are the decision makers who determine how much funding each federal agency receives. 
Overall, 14 members of our board participated, including a new member from New Jersey, members from Texas and California, and two members from Colorado. Other board members from Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, and Oregon also participated. Furthermore, our members from the state affiliates in Connecticut and Florida participated to discuss environmental health with congressional offices from their state. 
We met with 53 congressional offices, mainly congressional appropriators from the House and Senate (31 Democratic offices and 18 Republican offices. Of the visits, five were from offices in Colorado, five were from Maryland, four were from Alabama, four were from California, and three each were from Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming. We had two visits to offices from Kentucky, New Jersey, and Utah. One visit was to the office of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). 
Our meetings focused on appropriations to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Center for Environmental Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlighting the importance of federal funding for food safety and other environmental health objectives to the state and local environmental health profession. Our work is vital as we are the only association that advocates solely for environmental health and the environmental health profession before Congress. 
During our meetings, we asked Congress: 

  • To fund the CDC National Center for Environmental Health at $300 million and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at $95 million 
  • To fund the FDA Federal and State initiative that funds food safety inspections at $140 million and $35 million for states to purchase equipment to serve healthier meals and improve food safety 
  • To encourage the Health Resources and Services Administration to include environmental health within the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program 
  • To share with the congressional offices the importance of environmental health to state and local public health agencies 

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) wanted to meet with NEHA Immediate Past-President Roy Kroeger, and was scheduled to join the call. Kroeger noted that Senator Barrasso was an advocate for food safety when he served in the Wyoming state legislature. Other members were highly interested in our activities, especially on red tide in Florida, onsite wastewater in Alabama, and the recent train derailment in Ohio. 
In the context of national politics, these visits are essential to any association promoting their profession. Congress pays attention to those groups that actively promote their profession and supports funding for federal agencies and activities that provide for their profession. Congress needs to hear and know that these efforts have an impact on their constituents and communities. 
We will continue to advocate for the environmental health profession. 

For more information on NEHA Government Affairs, contact Doug Farquhar.