There was excitement in the air as Congressional ocean champions mixed and mingled with ocean activists, philanthropists and Hill staff, while taking in the spectacular view of the Capitol from the rooftop of the Jones-Day building.
Thanks to our fabulous Host Committee, and the generous Jones-Day event planners this year’s annual event was easily the best ever.
As has become the norm, about 20 Members of Congress attended, including Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) along with Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Lois Capps (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Carol Shea-Porter and Mark Alan Takano (D-CA), and Candidate Corry Westbrook. What made this year even more special, however, was what happened as the evening progressed.
As the rooftop filled up over three plus hours, hardly anyone left! Members of Congress, activists, and staffers alike – all busy people – stayed for the duration, and no one wanted the event to end.
Perhaps it was the good food or the great view, but more likely it was a reflection of how comfortable and strong the relationship between our champions and the ocean community has become. And while many of the conversations were casual and chatty – like old friends catching up – others focused on opportunities to move ocean legislation, and important connections were made.
A bipartisan group of five Senators and Congressmen strategized about the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia bill. Other champions engaged us on how to address ocean acidification in a meaningful way, while still others focused on getting plastic out of our ocean. Connections were made between staff and ideas to move past challenges were born. In a year where budget and foreign policy challenges threaten to crowd out all other priorities, opportunities to move good ocean bills fortunately still exist.
You can be sure that some important actions that will be taken over the last three months of the year will have gotten their start at this casual gathering of friends, old and new.
For the oceans,
David, Mike, Chris and the entire Ocean Champions team