Over the past several months, NCRA Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold and NCRA Director of State Government Relations Jocelynn Moore have been spotted regularly in the halls of Capitol Hill.
They are continuing the advocacy efforts that NCRA members started during the 2019 NCRA Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp. Those efforts support reauthorization of the Training for Realtime Writers Grant Program, a competitive program that was originally authorized under the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 2008, and which allocated 1.5 million dollars per year from 2010 to 2015 for the training of captioners.
“Once the legislation is introduced and moves forward, NCRA Government Relations will make sure to keep members updated as to any potential progress,” Moore said. “Thank you, again, to our Boot Camp attendees for the valuable information they collected during their Capitol Hill Day — their advocacy efforts from one day of grassroots lobbying is leading to tangible change and potential funding for the training of new captioners!”
On Capitol Hill Day, NCRA Boot Camp attendees met with more than 128 legislative representatives. During their visits, attendees emphasized the need to secure future funding for the program through the potential reauthorization of the HEA, which has been discussed in the last several legislative sessions.
After their Capitol Hill meetings, Boot Camp attendees reported back to NCRA Government Relations with crucial information concerning the possible reauthorization of the HEA and the status of funding for the Program. From the Hill visits, NCRA Government Relations learned that the HEA is still undergoing negotiations and that pursuing a stand-alone piece of legislation that seeks more funding is the best course of action.
Based on that information, Wenhold and Moore have been making the rounds in the House of Representatives and in the Senate the last several months to garner support for a stand-alone bill. In June, they met with Rep. Ron Kind, a representative from Wisconsin and a longtime ally of NCRA. Currently, Kind’s staff has graciously agreed to sponsor a new bill seeking to fund the Training for Realtime Writers Grant Program and is in the process of drafting new bill language. The congressman also sponsored stand-alone bills supporting the program in past Congresses.
NCRA Government Relations is pushing for the bill to be introduced during this legislative session, in the 116th Congress, and is seeking approximately $2 million per year. While Congressman Kind’s office has been working on bill language, Wenhold and Moore have been meeting with other representatives who may support the bill and have also been meeting with any senators who may be interested in introducing the bill in the Senate.
In June, they met with the offices of Rep. Bobby Scott (VA), Rep. Kay Granger (TX), Sen. Jon Tester (MT), Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), and Sen. Mike Braun (IN). Recently, they met with the offices of Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA), Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), Sen. Johnny Isakson (GA), and Sen. Pat Roberts (KS). At this time, NCRA Government Relations is looking to Sen. Johnny Isakson (GA) to be the lead sponsor on the bill in the U.S. Senate.