Don't miss the industry's most important political and legislative event of the year!

2019 American Boating Congress Issue Workshops, Monday, May 13

Policies Most Impacting the Boating Industry and Your Business NOW, and How You Can Affect Change

Issue Workshops

Meeting Room 2

1:40-2:20pm | Recreation Infrastructure: Boating Matters in the Debate

The beginning of the 116th Congress has seen significant momentum on infrastructure, with both sides of the aisle expressing a strong appetite for moving legislation to revitalize and modernize the nation’s infrastructure. While roads, bridges, and commercial airports are traditionally the main components in broad-scale infrastructure legislative measures, come learn about why recreational infrastructure deserves a seat at the table as Congress looks to tackle our nation’s infrastructure challenges.

2:30-3:10pm | Mitigating Impacts of Year-Round E15 Sales: Lawsuits, Legislation & Regulations

President Trump made a commitment to farmers that his administration would be opening the door to year-round sales of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is executing on the president’s campaign promise. As a part of the rulemaking process, the EPA is considering adopting additional consumer protection measures, which NMMA advocated for and helped secure.

Panelists will discuss the implications of year-round E15 for consumers and the environment, efforts to mitigate E15 misfuelling legislatively, and provide insights on the politics surrounding fuel policy.

3:20-4:00pm | Clean Water, Healthy Fisheries: Understanding the Industry’s Conservation Priorities

Conservation plays an essential role in providing recreational boaters with access to the water –today and for generations to come. Recognizing that access means nothing without healthy waterways, recreational boaters and anglers have been at the forefront of supporting conservation initiatives to protect the health of our fisheries, habitat, and water quality.

At this session you can learn about: how regional issues impacting the boating industry are being addressed by Congress, how conservation is integral to the ability of boaters to get out on the water, and the associated economic impacts the industry has in coastal and lakeside communities.

Meeting Room 4

1:40-2:20pm | A Multifaceted Approach to Solving the Industry's Workforce Shortage

The recreational boating industry is facing a shortfall of qualified workers for manufacturing, technicians, and service repair jobs. With a shortage of 31,000 workers, 21 percent of unfilled positions are in retail and 59 percent of open jobs are in boating service. In addition to apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and Pell grant expansion, the industry would benefit from comprehensive immigration reform to fill these skilled labor positions.

NMMA recently conducted a survey of its members to gather input about the industry’s workforce challenges, which will help NMMA identify solutions for attracting and retaining qualified workers. Join us as we walk through findings from the survey and discuss comprehensive solutions to address this challenge.

2:30-3:10pm | Trade State of Play: Tariffs, Negotiations & Off-Ramps

The U.S. marine industry is facing a 1-2-3 punch from worldwide tariffs on steel and aluminum, anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese aluminum sheets, and Section 301 tariffs on nearly 350 marine products. Additionally, due to retaliatory tariffs on all boats from our top trading partners, the industry’s $1.3 billion export market has suffered.

While the U.S. continues to negotiate trade agreements with its counterparts in China and the European Union (EU), the U.S., Mexico, and Canada reached a new agreement – the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). With the potential ratification of USMCA by Congress on the horizon, our industry has advocated for ending the retaliatory tariffs with the final approval of USCMA.

Join us for a panel discussion to learn the latest on these negotiations and agreements as well as how the marine industry is faring after more than a year of tit-for-tat trade wars.

3:20-4:00pm | Boating Safety: The Latest U.S. Coast Guard Initiatives

The U.S. marine industry works together with the U.S. Coast Guard to improve boating safety for the 142 million Americans who take to the water every year. Late last year, Congress approved the Coast Guard Authorization Act, which included several provisions that directly improve the safety of recreational boaters across the country.

As Congress begins working on the next Coast Guard reauthorization bill, join us for a panel discussion on the U.S. Coast Guard’s priorities for the year and recent initiatives to improve the safety of the hundreds of millions of Americans who participate in recreational boating each year.

Meeting Room 5

1:40-2:20pm | What are the Long-Term Implications of a Large Yacht Registry in the US?

With the stroke of President Trump’s pen last summer, patriotic yacht owners are now able to fly an American flag and register their yachts – over 300 GT – in the U.S. This new legislation modernizes outdated laws and brings the U.S. in line with current times.

So, what’s next? Join the U.S. Superyacht Association as we take a deep dive into what this change means and where we go from here.

2:30-3:10pm | Navigating Visas and Cruising License Policies

Large, foreign flagged recreational vessels visiting U.S. marinas that are being refitted at U.S. boatyards represent a tremendous amount economic activity and job creation. The annual operating budget for a 140’ yacht exceeds two million dollars. However, for foreign flagged recreational vessels to visit the U.S., the crews must be issued the appropriate visas, and the yacht may need a cruising license. These hurdles diminish the U.S.’s global competitiveness in the yachting sector, ultimately impacting U.S. jobs and our industry.

A panel featuring State Department Visa Services representative, Marc Snider and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials will address the intricacies of getting the correct visas issued, operating under a cruising license in U.S. waters, and the regulatory policies that surround them.

3:20-4:00pm | How Changes to Taxation & Free Trade Zones Will Help American Marine Workers

Interested in encouraging over $2.46 billion in U.S. economic activity that could generate thousands of well-paying American jobs? Free Trade Zones (FTZ) are important tools for allowing the industry to land, store, and manufacture products that will be re-exported without being subject to a duty. Come learn how an FTZ can help your business cope in the current trade climate.


Special Sessions & Events

Welcome Lunch & Awards Presentation
Monday, May 13 | 12:30 – 1:30pm

Please join us for lunch as we officially kick off the 2019 American Boating Congress. This session will feature a “State of the States” panel discussion examining the industry’s advocacy efforts in all 50 states and the presentation of two noteworthy industry awards:

  • Ambassador Award: Given annually to the ABC Co-host who has done the most significant promotion of ABC; and
  • BoatPAC – The Champions for Growth Award: Given annually to a company that has recognized the importance of BoatPAC’s mission and advocacy.


Understanding the Issues & Advocacy 101
Tuesday, May 14 | 8:00 – 9:15am

The recreational boating industry is facing major policy decisions, many that will culminate this summer and have long-term impacts on boating in the U.S. Some of these issues include the pending ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the likely year-round sale of E15, and securing a “Recreation Title” in a comprehensive infrastructure package. This session will educate you on the current political climate, prepare you on our industry’s top issues, and give insight on how to maximize your advocacy efforts while at ABC.

Group Photo in Front of U.S. Capitol Building
Tuesday, May 14 | 10:00am

Before heading off to your Hill meetings, we will meet for a group photo in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. Buses depart the Renaissance at 9:30am and will drop folks off on Capitol Hill – East Capitol Street between Second and Third Street.

Basecamp Room on Capitol Hill during Hill Meetings
Tuesday, May 14 | 10:30am – 5:00pm

Just like last year, we secured a room in Cannon House Office Building, Room 122, from 10:30am – 5:00pm on Tuesday during your Congressional meetings. Attendees are welcome to use this room as basecamp to take a break, grab a water, network with colleagues, etc.

Young Professionals Luncheon
Tuesday, May 14 | 12:00 – 1:00pm

In the wake of last year’s successful “Millennial Happy Hour,” we invite the industry’s young professionals for lunch and a new networking opportunity with Capitol Hill staffers. The Young Professionals Luncheon is at the Capitol Hill Club - 300 First Street, SE Washington, DC 20003

Recreational Angling and Boating Reception
Tuesday, May 14 | 6:00 – 8:30pm

BoatPAC supporters are invited to cocktail reception at the critically acclaimed District Winery in Navy Yard for a gathering with fellow PAC donors, as well as an opportunity to meet members of Congress and their staff and educate them on the top issues affecting the recreational boating community. For information on how to attend, please contact Erica Crocker at

Featured Plenary Session
Wednesday, May 15 | 8:30am – 12:00pm

You are not going to want to miss this part of the program. Bret Baier – FOX News chief political anchor and host of Special Report with Bret Baier ¬– will headline and facilitate a robust political debate between preeminent strategists Adrienne Elrod and Kevin Madden during this year’s featured plenary session. You will also have a front row seat to remarks from high profile members of the Trump Administration – including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler – and leading decision makers and influencers across Capitol Hill.

Additionally, a panel discussion on implementing the Modern Fish Act will take place during the featured plenary session, along with presentations of the States Organization for Boating Access Congressional Award and NMMA’s Legislator Award.

Farewell Lunch & Awards Ceremony
Wednesday, May 15 | 12:00 – 1:00pm

Join us as we wrap up ABC 2019 for a farewell lunch and presentation of several significant industry awards including:

  • The Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award: Honoring leaders in conservation; and
  • The Hammond Marine Industry Leadership Award: Celebrating individuals who have helped the marine industry get to where it is today in terms of achieving greater industry sales, stopping unwanted government regulations or seeking needed government regulation, or otherwise helping and benefiting the whole marine industry as distinct from building one’s own company.