By Brent Nussbaum, CEO
As some of you may know, I was recently invited to a White House news conference, complete with an official invitation. It all began in February when the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, reached out to the Illinois Trucking Association (ITA) and asked to meet with a female driver during a stop in Illinois. The ITA suggested Nussbaum, and the rest is history.
Nussbaum driver Lola Thomas-Albright met the Secretary at a rest area in Goodfield, where she walked him through a pre-trip and offered a glimpse into the life of an over-the-road truck driver. By the end, the two of them had formed a friendship. Secretary Buttigieg listened to Lola share about challenges facing drivers in the industry, and since that day, Nussbaum has become visible in Washington, D.C.
Your Presence is Requested
A few weeks ago, President Biden organized a news conference on the White House lawn to discuss how his infrastructure bill can help fix our broken supply chain. It also highlighted the administration’s efforts to increase job opportunities for veterans and promote a training program that allows eighteen-year-old drivers to cross state lines.
Lola, her granddaughter Lola-Ann and myself were all invited to attend. Lola and her granddaughter were well provided for; they received a tour of the White House (including the Vice-President’s office) and were seated in the front row near the podium where the President would be speaking.
I spent the morning with other transportation executives and the American Trucking Association (ATA); then, we were all shuttled to the White House. When I arrived, I was asked to meet with Robin Hutcheson, now the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). She wanted to discuss Nussbaum’s concerns that the FMCSA had not completed its work to allow eighteen-year-olds to begin training. Before I left, she gave me her card and asked that I follow up when I got back to the office.
Then, it was time for the news conference. At the last minute, they asked if I wanted to come up and sit in the front row. I was pretty excited about the opportunity to sit that close. President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, former Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphey, and a female driver from NFI Transportation spoke one by one.
President Biden focused on his infrastructure program and his desire to fix the broken supply chain issues by addressing the driver shortage. He and Secretary Murphey also shared their vision of promoting driving and logistics jobs to experienced veterans coming out of the military.
Secretary Buttigieg talked about developing a friendship with a driver named “Lola” and the administration’s efforts to encourage female drivers into the industry. He also touched on the training program that will allow eighteen-year-olds to gain experience and cross state lines.
Afterward, the President came off the podium and began meeting people in the rope line, including Lola and Lola-Ann. He kept working his way down the line, taking pictures and meeting people. I decided that I might never get a chance to visit the White House and meet a sitting President again, so after meeting him and shaking hands, we took a picture together. I introduced myself and thanked him for taking steps to address issues with our supply chain.
Politics aside, neither Democrats nor Republicans have addressed our industry’s problems. It has taken a crisis for both parties to admit that the system is broken and that someone needs to step up with answers to fix it.
I firmly believe that God orchestrated these meetings for Lola and myself – complete with invitations to the White House – to play a role in lobbying for solutions. I invite you to come alongside me to pray for our industry and all the great people that serve it.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2