Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Welcoming the 116th Congress, Now In Session
On the traditional starting date of Jan. 3, the 116th Congress convened, filled with new and familiar faces, including many returning music champions, notably within the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties. To get a head start on the new Congress, many of our members met with then candidates and incumbents in October during District Advocate day and laid out a policy agenda in support of music, the arts and creators’ rights.
The budget impasse has the parties at odds for the time being, but music unites us all and we welcome the 116th with the same bipartisan spirit that made the 115th Congress so historic for copyright law. The co-chairmanship of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are moving us ahead with the sense of accomplishment held over from last year's triumph — the Music Modernization Act's historic copyright reform passed Congress unanimously and was signed into law on Oct. 11.
In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee will be chaired for the first time by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) with Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) returning as ranking member. The House Judiciary Committee will be chaired by Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) with Doug Collins (R-Ga.) as ranking member. Collins and Nadler both introduced key components of the omnibus MMA during the last Congress, and remain dedicated to creators’ rights.
Like music, life and policy keeps moving ahead and thus so does our political advocacy on music's behalf. We are here year-round, meeting with lawmakers and assisting our members who feel the urge to reach out and make their voices heard.
Two GRAMMY winners who have already visited the 116th Congress are Tony Bennett and the Grateful Dead's iconic drummer Mickey Hart. They were guests of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her swearing in, and comes shortly after a visit by singer/songwriter Julia Michaels last month during the Recording Academy Advocacy's holiday party. The December party was filled with bipartisan spirit as lawmakers and artists joined together to cut the ribbon on our new offices in Washington, D.C.
Looking-ahead at issues sure to cross the legislative agenda this Congress, our members already have emphasized a few key issues with lawmakers. First and foremost, getting performance rights on terrestrial radio is still a goal we strive for. At the Copyright Office, which is not affected by the partial shutdown, modernization for the 21st century is an urgent issue. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill join the Copyright Office in pushing for efforts to establish a small claims court for independent creators. Meanwhile programs for music in the schools and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts—an agency currently shuttered due to the government shutdown—call for increased advocacy efforts. And we continue to make sure legislators know that the music community cares about negotiations on trade agreements and how they intersect with creators’ rights.
The 116th Congress has great potential to continue to support music and its creators, and the Recording Academy will be sure to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to achieve much needed policy goals.