The Class of 2010 had its busiest and warmest day of the trip so far! Our day began with a march to Capitol Hill and the Illinois Senator’s Coffee. This event, begun by Senator Paul Simon during his tenure, is an opportunity for visiting constituents to meet and ask questions of their elected officials. A handful of policy issues both relative to the nation and the state were discussed with Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Roland Burris and 13th District of Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert. Class participant Chris Salrin inquired about the status of Future Gen, the clean coal project slated to be developed in Mattoon, Illinois.
Out next stop was a tour of the US Capitol courtesy of Aaron Schock, the 18th District of Illinois Congressman. The tour began in the new visitor’s center followed by a viewing of the Capitol rotunda, the old House of Representatives chamber, the old Senate chamber. Our last stop was the new House of Representative chamber where the class watched a proposed bill relating home mortgages being discussed. The Capitol is an amazing building rich in both history and magnificent artwork.
After touring the Capitol we met briefly with Congressman Aaron Shock and his staff in the Rayburn House Office Building to discuss agriculture policy and the associated topics that he is currently working on including the Future Gen project, the evolving ethanol business in Illinois, and the future of livestock production in our state. Before wrapping up, we also had the chance to visit with Bobby Frederick, advisor to US House Representative Tim Johnson.
After a quick lunch at the Rayburn House Office Building and a Metro excursion across town we arrived at the IPC Agritrade building for our afternoon seminar. This afternoon’s seminar, which was comprised of two international trade roundtables, was hosted by the IPC’s Chief Executive Charlotte Hebebrand. The first roundtable discussion focused on the Doha trade talks, the EU, and APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation). Our guest speakers were JB Penn, John Deere, Devry Boughner, Cargill and Dan Rotenberg with the European Commission.
The second roundtable discussion centered on the trilateral NAFTA trade agreement on the economic and social benefit this agreement has had for the North American continent. Our guest speakers were Joe O’Mara, President, O’Mara & Associates, Chris Leggett, First Secretary of Agriculture, Embassy of Canada and Hector Marquez, NAFTA Office, Embassy of Mexico.
Our day concluded with a dinner at the Canadian Embassy complete with remarks by Susan Harper, the Canadian Embassy’s Economic Minister, on why the free trade policy between Canada and the US is so vital to the prosperity of both countries. The Canadian Embassy, on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House, provided a tremendous view of the Washington, D.C skyline and the event served as a capstone to the day’s events.
Incredibly, tomorrow, Friday, is our final day before returning to Illinois. It’s hard to believe that our week-long stay in Washington is passing by so quickly.