B-CS Chamber Begins Busy Capitol Hill Schedule

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The Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce's delegation marched on Washington's capitol offices Tuesday. Nearly two-dozen meetings were scheduled to take place to discuss the region's pressing issues.

Handshake after handshake after handshake. Photo after photo after photo. It was the routine of Senator John Cornyn Tuesday morning at a regular event held by elected officials. It's face time with constituents, and a brief moment to exchange words.

The first shakes and shots Tuesday were to members of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce's Washington delegation. They won't be the last chance for congressional contact with him.

Late additions to the delegation's schedule aren't a foreign concept, but getting someone like Cornyn (R-Texas) on the docket on a day's notice?

"We appreciate him allowing us to do that and be a late addition," said Carol Gravis, the chair of the Chamber board. "It will work to our advantage. Yes, you have to be flexible. Just about anything can happen."

So Tuesday morning's grip and grin was just that and not much more. The time for talk on the legislative action plan comes Wednesday afternoon, a plan the senator says he's looking forward to working on with fellow congressional representatives. He says it more often than not takes a series of bipartisan discussions to take a legislative action plan and turn it into legislation.

"We reach out and try to find ways to help educate one's colleagues, to try to get that support, because in the end, its whoever's got the votes to make that happen," Cornyn said.

The B-CS delegation then split up into four teams, each making their way to different meetings at the Capitol Hill offices of Texas' congressional delegation. A fifth group is making the rounds at government agency offices in the district. The Departments of Energy and Transportation were that group's stops Tuesday.

When it came to representatives, Pete Sessions (R-District 32), Mike Conaway (R-District 11), Louis Gohmert (R-District 1), and a former rep for the Twin Cities, John Carter (R-District 31) were all able to make time to meet face-to-face with chamber delegates.

Another congressman who made time: Kevin Brady, the District 8 rep who also formerly represented Bryan-College Station at one time before redistricting changed the boundaries.

The chance to speak with a congressman is big. To spend 45 minutes with one is huge, and that's just what the chamber group got with Brady.

Normally, the meetings are anywhere from five to 25 minutes, some more, some less.

"If we're in there for five or 10 minutes and we're trying to get most of our issues out, we can't get them all in there," said Royce Hickman, the president of the chamber, "and so we're trying to get them out in a way that's meaningful and leads to discussion and understanding of the issue, and ultimately, action on the issue."

With 45 minutes, the group expanded on a number of topics, including a new one popping up concerning rural water districts. Ask the delegates, and they'll tell you that attempts by cities to annex land have been met by water districts hiding behind federal loans so they can continue providing service instead of the cities. It was a topic Brady had not encountered, but seemed intrigued about.

"How do you keep the focus on making sure we're serving customers, keeping jobs in our community," he said. "We don't let the bureaucracy, state or federal, get in the way of our growth. That's a new issue for me, but I'm interested in it."

It will be another busy day for the delegation Wednesday, one made busier by the added Cornyn meeting. His Senate colleague from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, also has a meeting scheduled with the group, as does District 17's congressman, Chet Edwards.