As bankers prepare to head to Capitol Hill tomorrow, two freshman lawmakers shared insights on what makes for successful advocacy with attendees to ABA’s Emerging Leaders Forum. “It’s crucial for you to have a direct line connection to your representatives,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.). “Those folks need to hear directly what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, or what things you think are working. Only through that feedback loop can things improve.”
Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) stressed the importance of speaking up, noting that when he first started out as a young representative in the Virginia state house, he noticed that “if you’re in business and you aren’t represented by either yourself or an association, you’re already behind. Nothing is more important than showing up, looking [your member of Congress] in the eye, and telling them about the issues that you have.”
Krishnamoorthi added that it’s important for bankers to present themselves as credible sources when meeting with lawmakers. “Bring the facts to the table, and be specific in your asks,” he said. “The people that come with very specific asks and facts that underlie their requests are the ones that are most persuasive.” Bankers can also build their credibility by addressing the counterarguments on a particular issue, he added. Once that credibility is established, the banker becomes a valuable industry source that the lawmaker can turn to.
As newly elected members of Congress, both Taylor and Krishnamoorthi said they were willing to reach across party lines to pass common-sense legislation that their constituents need, and they highlighted the need for ongoing advocacy. “Advocate on what you’re interested in, not just in DC, but do it at home as well,” Taylor said. “If you can get someone at home, even better. Don’t ever forget the importance of showing up.”