In Congress this Week.

The Senate this week will continue to move forward on the consideration of the New and 45th president’s cabinet picks while committees on both sides of the Capitol begin to conduct their formal organizational proceedings for the 115th Congress.

On Monday members will take up 11 legislative measures under suspension of the rules, all within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which had reported them in the last Congress.

On Tuesday, the House will consider three additional bills under suspension of the rules before considering H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. Identical to a bill passed by the House early in the 114th Congress, the legislation would broaden the existing language of the Hyde Amendment and ban the use of any federal funds to pay for abortions. Consideration of H.R. 7 will be subject to a rule.

The Senate will resume legislative business on Monday when members will debate and vote on the nomination of Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Senate floor schedule for the remainder of the week is unclear, but look for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule votes on other cabinet nominees as they are reported by their respective Senate committees. Several committees have scheduled votes throughout the week. On Monday afternoon, the Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State. On Tuesday, the Banking Committee will meet to consider the nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. That same morning the Judiciary Committee will consider the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to serve as attorney general. A meeting of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos scheduled for this week has been postponed.

Other Senate committees will continue to review the qualifications of President Trump’s cabinet appointees. The Finance Committee is scheduled to resume its consideration of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Much of the first day of the Price hearing was given over to questions about the nominee’s stock trading. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., whom the president has tapped to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, is scheduled to appear before two Senate committees on Tuesday; in the morning, he will provide testimony to the Budget Committee before an afternoon appearance before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Rep. Mulvaney is dogged by questions over his failure to pay requisite taxes for a household employee from before he was elected to Congress, and some Democrats have called for his nomination to be withdrawn. The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hear testimony from Linda McMahon of Connecticut on her nomination to serve as the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Also on the schedule this week, and in keeping with the Republican initiative currently underway to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the House Budget Committee is set to host a Tuesday hearing regarding the “Failures of Obamacare.” The hearing will be the first under its new chairman, Diane Black, R-Tenn., who was named to succeed Rep. Price following his nomination to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

On both sides of the Capitol, a number of committees are meeting for the first time this week to organize for the 115th Congress and adopt the rules for official proceedings. The full schedule of events for the week ahead is detailed below.

Advertisements

The election of Donald Trump creates a drastic shift in government relations strategies in DC.

With a new year, companies and not for profits should be reevaluating their government affairs programs just as they will review their tax, marketing and financial planning. More significantly, this year, a new U.S. government will form, and a new presidential administration commence.

U.S. and foreign businesses and industries should accordingly carefully review their government relations, lobbying, and public affairs strategies in Washington, DC. Companies that have engaged in government relations during the Obama years now need to fully re-write their government relations plan in a city soon to be led by President Donald J. Trump. Those engaging in government affairs for the first time need to move fast.

Trump’s executive team promises to be very different in governing philosophy, public policy, and management than President Obama’s team; but based on Trump’s cabinet picks; it will be substantially different than President Bush’s as well.

Based on that absolute shift, business and industry must reevaluate its government relations strategy for 2017. With a new pro-business focus, no company or industry will want to be on the sidelines for the next four years. Those businesses that have existing government affairs efforts in Washington need to reassess and revise old plans and write a new ones. And those that want to engage in a first-time government relations program need to get in the game now. Based on President-elect Trump’s cabinet choices thus far, the policy and management differences with the outgoing Obama Administration will be substantial; aimed at systemic change in nearly every area of government policy that affects business:

 

  • Appropriations, budget, tax, trade
  • Energy, oil/gas, renewable energy, energy management
  • Transportation, infrastructure, air and shipping transport
  • FCC and telecom
  • Financial services, Dodd Frank, digital assets
  • Healthcare, life sciences, pharma, medical technology
  • Gaming, hospitality
  • Education
  • Municipality
  • Labor, immigration
  • Ocean technology, environment, climate
  • Internet, cyber, privacy, social media
  • National security & defense
  • International Relations

 

Thus, if your company has had a government relations effort during the Obama Administration, then a re-evaluation is critical because what was advocated by the U.S. government between 2009-2016 will now be substantially dismantled and replaced with a new governing philosophy and public policy agenda.

For instance, President-elect Trump has chosen conservative U.S. Rep. Tom Price to serve as his Secretary of Health and Human Services and to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Obamacare). Price is the former chair of the Republican Study Committee, the group of movement conservative members of the House of Representatives. Moreover, in 2013, he introduced in Congress a substantive bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump’s choice of Price to head HHS will stand in exact contrast to the political ideology and pro- ACA position of the current HHS Secretary, Sylvia Burwell.

Other members of his cabinet also come from a more conservative, pro-growth, limited government, less government regulation philosophy including Governor Rick Perry, as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Andrew Puzder, CEO, Hardee’s, to be Secretary of Labor, Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Linda McMahon, a principal with the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, as the new Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Dr. Ben Carson, the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Rep. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the next Secretary of the Interior, United States Marine Corps General James Mattis (ret.) as Secretary of Defense and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

To be fully prepared, companies need to take the time necessary to strategize a new plan, hire the right professionals in Washington, identify the right issues for the company, and be a ready to educate the “new” U.S.  Federal  government.

Duane Morris Government Strategies has a Washington, DC-based government relations and lobbying office for U.S. and foreign companies, organizations, and governments that want to develop a more professional and interactive relationship with the U.S. federal government; Congress, the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies.

We can assist with congressional relations, regulatory affairs, developing positive brand equity for your company throughout the U.S. government, business to government (b2g) contracts, lobbying on specific legislative or regulatory issues, advising on current policy and political developments, and assisting with industry associations where your company is a member. We can provide a comprehensive, substantive and personalized suite of U.S. government affairs services for a cost-effective and competitive budget.

 

 

Italian Referendum: Lessons Learned

In an earlier comment we wrote that: “The ‘populist’ movement that inspired the raise of Trump and Sanders  may be about to surge through Europe. If so, it will change drastically the Continent’s political landscape in ways not seen since  World War II”.

In Italy, the last polls published before Sunday’s referendum showed a widening opposition to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s proposed constitutional reform package. Although there were rumors that the contest had tightened up in the last two weeks, when polls could not legally be published, the government ultimately lost by a wide margin. Just under 60 percent of the Italian electorate voted against Renzi’s package, whereas just over 40 percent supported it (turnout was a historically high 65.5 percent.) Renzi, speaking just after midnight on Monday morning, acknowledged defeat. He thanked the country for its involvement in the debate and for the high level of participation. He also made it clear that he would tender his resignation.

Italy now needs a new government and likely some electoral reform.

Italy’s biggest problem, however, is not debt, economics, or even immigration. It is the widespread disillusionment of Italy’s youth. The most striking revelation to emerge from public opinion polling prior to the referendum was the extent to which young people feel excluded from the political system. Macro Advisory Partners, a London-based consulting firm, found in its final pre-referendum poll that opposition to Renzi’s reforms was strongest among the youngest voters. Fifty-eight percent of Italians between ages 18 and 24 said that they rejected the constitutional reform package, as did 51 percent of Italians between 25 and 34; opposition among students was 59 percent. The youngish Renzi had hoped that the youth would throw its support behind his “hope and change” message of reform. In reality, however, they were more likely to support Beppe Grillo and his populist Five Star Movement.

Young Italians have good cause for disillusionment. Despite the fact they are, on average, more educated than their parents are, many are under- or unemployed and still live in the homes they grew up in. Tackling this disillusionment, which is leading to an exodus of youth from the country and a decline in participation among the mainstream political parties, needs to be the next government’s top priority.  If Italy’s political leadership cannot promise the rising generation better material circumstances or real political engagement, it, and the rest of Europe. will soon have to face the consequences.

Final Week for the 114th Congress.

This is the final week of legislative activity for the 114th Congress, with the House and Senate expected to work through the outstanding items that remain for 2016.

Lawmakers are scheduled to be in session until Dec. 16, but resolution and passage of a spending measure to keep the government funded into 2017, the annual national defense authorization act, and the biomedical innovation bill, among a handful of other final legislative items should be finished this week, enabling members to depart Washington, D.C., at the end of this week.

Negotiations over a continuing resolution have been ongoing and press reports indicate congressional leaders are close to a deal that should be ready for a vote this week. Current government funding expires on Dec. 9. Although initial discussions on the CR were focused on a three-month extension of current spending authority into March 2017, leadership now seems to be agreed on extending that authority into April after acknowledging the reality of the congressional calendar. Both chambers are anticipating an active legislative agenda in the first few months of the 115th Congress, and the Senate will be particularly busy with the confirmation process for appointees to the new administration. Republican leadership recognizes that it would be challenging to add an appropriations deadline to the agenda in the first 100 days of the new session. Legislative text has not yet been released, but House leadership indicated on Friday that the text of the spending bill would be ready to permit a vote this week. Although the funding portion is easily crafted, many funding anomalies and various legislative provisions that can be agreed upon must be crafted, making the final drafting of the CR a laborious and time-consuming task.

In addition to the expected consideration of a CR this week, the Senate is set to take up two additional lame duck priorities. Following the successful passage of both the biomedical innovation bill (H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act) and a $619 billion conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943) through the House of Representatives last week, the Senate is now poised to take action on these measures. Senators are scheduled to return on Monday for a procedural vote on the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation that will invest greater resources in medical innovation and speed up the process by which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves new drugs and devices. The legislation also includes additional provisions to address the opioid epidemic and to bolster the country’s mental health systems. There is widespread, bipartisan support for the measure, and even though several Senate Democrats have criticized the final version of the bill and announced their opposition, the legislation is expected to see Senate approval this week and be signed into law by the president.

Once the 21st Century Cures Act has been dispensed with, the Senate will begin consideration of the conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House last Friday by a vote of 375-34. This legislation provides an additional $8 billion in funding for overseas contingency operations and readiness shortfalls and covers the $5.8 billion supplemental request sent by the president to Congress in November. It also includes a 2.1 percent pay raise for U.S. troops. The funding in the bill is simply an authorization, and defense hawks have been critical of the CR strategy that congressional leaders have been pursuing because a CR will not provide the military with all of the funds authorized by this bill

The House is scheduled to convene again on Monday when it will take up six bills under suspension of the rules, including S. 1635, legislation authorizing the activities of the Department of State for FY 2017.

On Tuesday, members will consider a suspension package consisting of 21 bills, reported out of the Energy and Commerce, the Natural Resources, or the Veterans Affairs Committees.

On Wednesday and during the remainder of the week it is possible for the House to take up additional measures under suspension of the rules. Also expected for floor consideration is H.R. 5143, the Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016. The legislation would require the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to provide additional reports to Congress on international negotiations regarding regulatory standards in the insurance industry. Chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., chairman of the House Financial Service Committee’s Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, stated the bill is intended to “increase transparency and strengthen Congress’ role in supervising foreign standards setting organizations.” Consideration of H.R. 5143 will be subject to a rule. Finally, the House will tackle the CR when it becomes available.

Populist parties surge in Europe

The “populist” movement that inspired the raise of Trump and Sanders  may be about to surge through Europe. If so, it will change drastically the Continent’s political landscape in ways not seen since  World War II.

It’s already hit the UK in the form of Brexit, killing David Cameron’s pro-EU government in the process.

Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Greece already have populist, —or “non-mainstream”—parties in power.

Italy is the next flashpoint.

A “No” vote in Italy is virtually assured at this point.

But it won’t be the end of the populist surge. Voters in Europe’s biggest countries could soon throw out their “mainstream” parties in favor of populist, or anti EU Alternatives.

Here’s the rundown…

Austria

Austria is holding a presidential election today. It’s actually a redo of an election held in May, where a populist candidate, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, barely lost.

Austrian courts found irregularities in the results and ordered a prompt new election. But when opinion polls showed the populist candidate in the lead, the government delayed the vote until today. Nevertheless, Mr. Hofer looks set to win the election.

France

France has a presidential election next spring. There’s a chance that Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, will do better than many expect. After more than a decade of disappointment under Presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters are clamoring for something different.

Spain

Spain recently re-elected incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However, Spanish voters fled traditional political parties en- masse for new populist upstarts Podemos and Ciudadanos. So Rajoy was unable to form a majority government.

Rajoy now leads a severely weak minority government. The political power of the Spanish populist parties is only expected to grow.

Germany

Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, embodies the European establishment more than any other politician. Her party suffered a series of stinging defeats in regional elections this year, mostly because of her signature lax immigration policies, which have flooded Germany with migrants.

Merkel’s troubles have only helped the Alternative for Germany, a new populist party surging in popularity. The party could pose a real problem for Merkel in the 2017 federal elections.

The Netherlands

As the Netherlands approaches elections in March, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, which advocates leaving the EU, is basically tied in opinion polls with the establishment parties.

As populist parties surge, the entire European Union is looking shakier by the day.

Contenders for U.S. EPA Administrator

President-elect Donald Trump is scheduled to meet today with two possible contenders for U.S. EPA administrator who have called for rollbacks of some of the more contentious environmental rules.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who’s helping to lead the legal fight against the Obama administration’s climate rule, and former Texas environmental regulator Kathleen Hartnett White — who has called for restraining ” EPA” — are both scheduled to meet with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in New York as they continue to announce picks for administration jobs.

Both Pruitt and Hartnett White have been rumored candidates for EPA leadership under Trump. He’s a lawyer who has climbed the political ranks in the Sooner State and recently said he’d consider running for governor in 2018. She’s a public policy expert who served as a Texas environmental regulator and as a special assistant in the White House for first lady Nancy Reagan.

They’d both be expected to reshape the agency by reducing or reshaping regulations.

Many other names have been floated for EPA administrator, including additional state officials and former George W. Bush administration EPA political appointees. Another state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, has been mentioned for the EPA job.

Trump’s other meetings scheduled for this week include sit-downs with rumored contenders for secretary of State retired Gen. David Petraeus, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Trump will also meet tomorrow with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), according to the transition team.

Trump: Advancing Tax Incentives and Public-Private Partnerships

President Elect Trump has vowed to work with Congress on an ambitious $1 trillion, 10-year proposal staked on tax incentives and private investment to stimulate jobs and rebuild highways, bridges and airports within his first 100 days in office.

To pay for large-scale infrastructure projects, the president-elect is seeking to entice the private sector to get on board with putting up $167 billion of the proposed $1 trillion investment in public-works projects by having the government offer them an 82 percent tax credit.

The plan also relies on increased tax revenues from two revenue streams generated from the new infrastructure projects to offset the tax expenditure: additional wage income from construction workers and contractor profits. Advancing Tax Incentives and Public-Private Partnerships

Trump has vowed to work with Congress on an ambitious $1 trillion, 10-year proposal staked on tax incentives and private investment to stimulate jobs and rebuild highways, bridges and airports within his first 100 days in office.

To pay for large-scale infrastructure projects, the president-elect is seeking to entice the private sector to get on board with putting up $167 billion of the proposed $1 trillion investment in public-works projects by having the government offer them an 82 percent tax credit. The plan also relies on increased tax revenues from two revenue streams generated from the new infrastructure projects to offset the tax expenditure: additional wage income from construction workers and contractor profits.

It is estimated that $300 billion or more in private capital is ready to be deployed for this purpose. This estimated sum exists as investors like pension funds, insurance companies and private equity believe deploying their capital towards infrastructure makes for a sound investment backed by the strength and integrity of local and state governments.

Thus, Trump’s proposal could provide significant and long-awaited opportunities for public-private partnerships, or P3s, to invest in major, high-cost, revenue-supported projects.