June 27, 2023

Restaurant operators advocate for industry on Capitol Hill

Industry advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. for Public Affairs Conference, took policy issues straight to lawmakers
2023 Public Affairs Conference Attendees
Last week, more than 600 restaurant operators from across the country descended on Washington, D.C., for the National Restaurant Association’s 37th annual Public Affairs Conference. 

During this three-day event, attendees participated in exciting networking events and public affairs programming with prominent speakers from the Bush and Obama White Houses, Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs, and current members of Congress: Senator Bill Cassidy (LA-R), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-05) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (C-19). 

In their conversations with Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs, speakers covered a range of topics and viewpoints, but they all agreed that restaurant operators’ personal stories have the power to educate and influence policymakers.

Programming also included a presentation on the 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry by Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of Research, and the Restaurants Advance Leadership Awards dinner, where the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation honored four winners representing the industry’s best-of-the-best in industry leadership and role modeling, community service and the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The conference culminated in a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, where attendees held over 150 meetings with Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate. During these meetings, attendees encouraged Congress to take steps to make it easier to hire employees and keep business costs low.

Specifically, attendees urged Congress to stem skyrocketing credit card swipe fees through the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act, expand the restaurant workforce through the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act, and preserve the existing tip credit and tipping system. 

Restaurants are the backbone of every community, creating jobs and bringing residents together. To continue to play that role, restaurant operators need policies that support their success. That’s why members of the National Restaurant Association from across the country will return to Washington, D.C., next year to continue to advocate for policies to help restaurants thrive.