As we celebrated the Fourth of July earlier this month and stars and stripes flew high, we must remember that America would not be what it is today without a fight to preserve inalienable rights and protections for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In that spirit of independence, ATD hosted a successful third annual legislative fly-in that brought commercial truck dealers from around the country to our nation's capital to fight for the truck industry. We came to urge members of Congress to repeal the harmful federal excise tax (FET) that is hindering the growth of one of America's most economically robust and important industries.
ATD's grassroots network is second-to-none, and the annual truck dealer fly-in is our opportunity to show Congress that we stand united on the issues that matter most to our businesses, employees and customers. And thanks to the efforts of our forefathers 241 years ago, we are all fortunate enough to live in a country that allows us to meet with our freely-elected legislators and voice our opinion. Truck dealers and trade association executives met in Washington for two days, and I'm pleased to report that our efforts resulted in a record-breaking 92 Capitol Hill meetings. Each meeting with a member of Congress afforded us the opportunity to discuss the challenges in our business and, simultaneously, the barriers for customers during the truck-buying process. During these valuable face-to-face interactions with officials, we showed them who we are and what we do in the commercial end of truck retailing—a job that is not easy.
Most of all, we are able to meet and thank our supporters on Capitol Hill, because we cannot win the fight without their critical help. In that regard, ATD attendees had the privilege of hearing directly from U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) during the ATD board meeting. He provided us with critical updates on upcoming legislation that can affect our industry and discussed H.R. 2946 as it pertains to the FET repeal.
Fighting against the harmful FET tax is at the top of the ATD agenda, and I'm pleased to report that H.R. 2946 is gaining traction on Capitol Hill. This bill, introduced by Rep. LaMalfa, would effectively repeal the FET on the retail sale of most heavy-duty trucks, tractors and trailers. As we all know, the FET is harmful to our industry, routinely adding $12,000 to $22,000 to the price of a new heavy-duty truck. Thanks to ATD's advocacy, H.R. 2946 has gained several cosponsors, but we need more to make this effort part of tax reform this year.
I am urging all ATD members to be active: Call or email your House members today. Ask your Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 2946.
To contact your House member, visit www.house.gov and enter your zip code, or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.225.3121.
On behalf of ATD, I am extremely grateful for all of our truck dealer members. And I want to especially thank those who worked hard to make the ATD fly-in another success! When I look back on the week, I am reminded that our dealers' dedication is second-to-none and it has truly been a year of historic birthdays. And while we celebrated America's independence earlier this month, I cannot help but reflect that our trade association celebrates its own 100-year milestone this year. NADA's amazing century-long legacy has helped to establish strong credibility with our elected officials, and it is time to step up our grassroots engagement to eliminate the 100-year-old FET. And we must maintain our lines of communication with our legislators into the future.
I urge truck dealers across the country to host your members of Congress this summer when they are home in your districts. The August congressional recess presents a rare opportunity to meet with our elected officials on our own home turf. There are many issues looming—and new legislation is being written—and it is vital that we build long-term relationships with our state and federal legislators throughout the entire year. If you are interested in hosting a member of Congress at your dealership or meeting at a legislator's district office during a congressional recess, contact Patrick Calpin, ATD/NADA director of grassroots advocacy, at email@example.com or 202.547.5500.
ATD represents 1,800 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealerships, and we stand committed to fighting for each and every one of you. Thank you for your continued work in our nation's capital.
Steve Parker is chairman of ATD, a division of NADA in Tysons, Va., which represents 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships. He is president of Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum, Md., which operates five full-service commercial truck dealership locations with Mack, Volvo and Hino Trucks franchises in Maryland and Virginia.