DRC on the Hill: A look at the 2024 D.C. Fly-In

The strength of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region’s business community was on display in the nation’s capital Tuesday, April 30-Thursday, May 2, during the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) and Fort Worth Chamber’s joint D.C. Fly-In, presented by Lockheed Martin.  

Thirty-five members of the DFW business community, including 29 DRC members, joined the trip to advocate for policies that bolster economic prosperity and support the region’s continued growth. Divided into topic area tracks, attendees spread throughout the Capitol campus to meet with members of Congress. 

“We hear from lawmakers and policy leaders on a regular basis about just how important it is for our business community to be engaged in policy matters and vocal about sharing our perspectives,” said Ashlee Davidson, Vice President of Communications at Lockheed Martin and a DRC Board member. “This fly-in is a great opportunity for us to advocate for the future of the Dallas-Fort Worth area—for businesses, community, and the overall quality of life that is crucial to our future prosperity.” 

The tradition of a joint DRC and Fort Worth Chamber fly-in dates back many years, though this was the largest and most ambitious ever. In one day, the trip included: 

      • Meetings with both Texas senators, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz 
      • 12 congressional meetings with the North Texas delegation and other representatives from Texas 
      • 5 agency briefings, including from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which the DRC was instrumental in bringing to Dallas 
      • An election briefing by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 

“While we go to D.C. to advocate for our region’s priorities, this trip is also a great opportunity to show how the Dallas-Fort Worth business community is ready and energized to partner with our nation’s leaders to help ensure a prosperous future for all people,” said Angela Farley, DRC COO and CFO. “The DRC is grateful for our deep, long-standing partnership with our friends at the Fort Worth Chamber on advocacy trips to our nation’s capital. It works to our advantage to show the collaborative spirit of one of the nation’s largest and most important economic engines.” 

DRC, Fort Worth Chamber leaders and members with Sen. John Cornyn

Discussions with policymakers and elected officials focused on advocacy for investments in infrastructure, education and workforce, and future technology. Leaders promoted the Highway Formula Fairness Act, the Pell Grant expansion for short-term workforce training programs to address the region’s middle-skills gap, and research and development tax relief.  

A meeting at the Department of Commerce featured a hearty discussion on artificial intelligence, its regulation, and DFW’s leadership on the topic. Several meetings, including one at the Department of Transportation, saw DRC leaders and members promoting the reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration as critical to prosperity in DFW, given its status as a major transportation hub. Read more about our federal priorities here. 

On the first night of the trip, Farley led a fireside chat conversation with The Honorable Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education and current President and CEO of the Bipartisan Policy Center. Secretary Spellings used the opportunity to remind attendees of Texas’ impact on the nation ahead of their advocacy meetings the next day. 

“Talk about the population of Texas,” Spellings said. “If you want to move our nation forward, you better be thinking about closing the achievement gaps in Texas.” 

Tuesday evening’s event was hosted at the Embassy of Canada to the United States and attended by Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne, Congressman Keith Self, and Susan Harper, Consul General of Canada in Dallas. 

DRC, Fort Worth Chamber leaders and members with Sen. Ted Cruz

On the second night, Sen. Cruz joined attendees again at a Tri-City Dinner jointly hosted by the DRC, Greater Houston Partnership, and Fort Worth Chamber. Combined, the three chambers represent two-thirds of Texas’ economy. In their remarks, Sen. Cruz and Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison each recognized the significance of having the three regions together in the nation’s capital, emphasizing the importance of collaboration to maintaining Texas’ status as the No. 1 state for economic development. The Tri-City Dinner also featured Katherine Faulders, ABC News’ White House Correspondent. 

“The Washington fly-in is unique because it allows us to come together, as the North Texas region, and represent the issues that are important to all of us,” said Chris Nielsen, Toyota Motor North America’s Executive Vice President and 2019 DRC Board Chair. “We invest in events like this because we have found them, through our years of participating, to be extremely valuable.” 

This major advocacy effort was made possible by joint presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin; gold sponsors American Airlines, Boeing, Toyota Motor North America, and the University of Texas at Arlington; and silver sponsors Axxess, Fidelity Investments, and West Coast University Texas.  

To learn more about the DRC’s Public Policy work, visit our website. To inquire about joining future advocacy trips to Austin and D.C., contact publicpolicy@dallaschamber.org.