Congress: CR Saga goes on.

Yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered up what he called a “clean” continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 9, saying it was the result of bipartisan negotiations, including funds to fight the spread of the Zika virus, money for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction, and aid for flooded communities in Maryland, Louisiana and others. The bill also includes some funds for an anti-opioid bill and the Toxic Substances Control Act passed earlier this year.

McConnell’s measure backed off provisions that would have prohibited transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to a multinational entity, as well as restrictions on the Puerto Rican affiliate of Planned Parenthood accessing federal funds.

Some Democrats however zoomed in on the lack of aid for Flint, Michigan, with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., saying her caucus could not support the “Republican only” bill. Mikulski said that although communities like those in Louisiana desperately need aid, Flint should not be put to the back of the line.

Mikulski said that the Senate should take up Flint aid in the stopgap bill, rather than wait for the House to possibly take up the $200 million in Flint aid included in the Water Resources Development Act the Senate passed last week.

The $9.4 billion bill, which includes Flint aid, authorizations for Army Corps of Engineers projects and grants for local communities’ water projects, has to be reconciled with the $5 billion House bill that focuses mostly on Army Corps projects.

McConnell set a procedural vote on his version of the continuing resolution for Tuesday, and said he intends for the Senate to pass the stopgap funding measure before the government would have to shut down at the end of the week.

Although all 12 bills normally used to fund the government have been cleared by the House and Senate appropriations committees, partisan fights over gun control measures, funding to fight the spread of the Zika virus, and protections for LGBT contractors have derailed efforts in both chambers. Several of the bills have passed one or the other chamber, but none have been sent to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Previous efforts to pass legislation funding anti-Zika efforts in the Senate have been blocked by Democrats who objected to the levels of funding — previous efforts have been either completely or partially offset by cuts elsewhere — or riders reducing funding for Planned Parenthood or federal disbursements to Puerto Rico.

 

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Energy issues dominate the hearing schedule in Congress this week.

A House and Senate conference committee on comprehensive energy legislation is scheduled to meet formally for the first time on Thursday. Members will be working out the differences between their two versions of legislation that could be the first update to federal energy policy since 2007. The Senate passed its bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in April, while the House narrowly passed its own version of energy modernization legislation on a party-line vote, meaning there will be significant issues for the conference committee to work through this fall.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to review the Federal Power Act, particularly the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and electricity markets over the past 20 years.

There are two House Foreign Affairs hearings scheduled on Thursday afternoon that are focused on energy markets. The Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hold a joint hearing with the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to discuss energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific is also scheduled to meet to discuss opportunities to advance U.S. energy policy in Asia, particularly the region’s dependence on liquefied natural gas from the United States and the economic and security interests involved.

On Friday morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets will hold an oversight hearing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to the devastating flooding that occurred in Louisiana in August. The agency has approved more than $100 million in disaster relief grants for flood victims, but Congress may be asked to provide additional emergency funds to assist with the recovery effort.

While not Energy related per se., on Thursday, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will meet to discuss the Obama administration’s $400 million cash payment of U.S. taxpayer funds to Iran that has been linked to the release of several U.S. hostages. The payout has come under intense scrutiny, particularly from congressional Republicans. The hearing will focus on the $400 million cash payment and the implications on U.S. efforts to inhibit terrorism financing.

The Iran payout is also the subject of a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice is scheduled to hold an oversight hearing on the lack of transparency on money from the Judgment Fund, a permanent Treasury Department account used to pay judgments and claims against the United States.

Big changes in Lobbying from Big Changes in Congress

 

Big changes in Lobbying from Big Changes in Congress:

With the Republican Party taking the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, lobbying dollars will shift to areas such as health and energy to reflect GOP priorities says Martin Milita of Duane Morris Government Strategies. The Republican Party won control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, taking seats held by Democratic incumbents in several key battleground states to secure the majority after holding onto and increasing its presence in the the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the evening.

The GOP had needed to reel in six seats to retake the Senate following eight years of Democratic control, and by late Tuesday had done just that in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia to push them to victory.

Expectations that the next Congress may have a hard time getting legislation passed because of the “threat of a White House veto, or may otherwise pursue an unambitious agenda”, should see lobbying spending shift away from routine “monitoring and reporting” efforts; “ lobbyist will rather focus on winning support for major projects and legislation, resulting in a potential boon for established, well-connected firms”, Milita said.

This will include large law firm lobbying arms, such as Duane Morris Government Strategies. Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals have worked for members of Congress, congressional and state committees, and presidential and gubernatorial transition teams. Also at Duane Morris Government Strategies disposal are hundreds of seasoned attorneys from the Duane Morris law firm who have handled complex legal issues in the public and private sectors across a multitude of industries.

“Particular industries, such as the energy industry and the defense industry, could also ramp up their spending to reflect perceived and stated GOP legislative priorities- like pressing for approval of the contentious Keystone XL crude oil pipeline” says Milita.

Milita went on to say, “Health care companies are especially likely to drive a tremendous amount of activity under a GOP-majority Senate, with likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expected to support a push to revisit aspects of the Affordable Care Act”.

DMGS clients’ included retailers and manufacturers, professional associations, municipalities, health care and pharmaceutical companies, transportation and oil companies, universities, and financial services firms, many of them in the top echelons of their respective industries.

According to Milita, the change in Senate majority is the sort of “realigning election” that typically ushers in an increase in lobbying spending in general, with both Republican and Democratic incumbents continuing to see significant lobbying spending directed at them. Meanwhile, lobbying firms and their clients will also be reaching out to newly elected senators, Milita says.

“It’s an great opportunity for those who get in first to communicate with new members,” he said.

More importantly, lobbying clients will seek to direct spending to secure or reinforce ties with new committee and caucus leaders, who hold significant influence over the legislation that will reach the Senate floor — efforts that in some cases can be like “starting anew,” Milita said.

“This is a fundamental change … clients have to start all over again in trying to establish relationships,” he said.

Despite some anti-lobbying rhetoric from the Obama administration, congressional lobbying spending has remained at a relatively stable, high level for a number of years, after ramping up during the 2000s, according to Allard.

Total federal congressional lobbying spending has remained about $3.3 billion for each of the past three years, after peaking around $3.5 billion in both 2009 and 2010, according to figures collated by the Center for Responsive Politics from Lobbying Disclosure Act-mandated filings. Spending first jumped to about $3.3 billion in 2008, from just under $2.9 billion in 2007, following a decade of steady year-on-year increases.

The largest industry sector for congressional lobbying spending in 2013 was finance, insurance and real estate, at just under $490 million, with the health industry close behind at a little more than $487 million. Communications and technology firms were next on the list, spending close to $394 million. Energy and other natural resources firms spent just more than $359 million, outspending the next nearest industry — transportation — by more than $130 million, CRP-collated figures show.

While its overall spending levels and relative positions within the group have changed over the past decade, this group of four industries has remained, as a bloc, the biggest lobbying spenders over that period.

But even these lofty figures don’t capture the full picture, Milita said. With much legislation around the world now having cross-border impacts, the increasing globalization of advocacy efforts is one of the most fundamental recent changes to the lobbying industry, and it is not reflected in federal LDA filings, the usual tracking tool, he said.

“The fact is, a lot is spent on lobbying, and that will continue,” he said. “The demand for expert advocacy will continue as government’s influence on our lives continues.”

Two Vastly Different Outcomes: control of the Senate

While there’s no presidential race this year, the upcoming election has the potential to send a shockwave: control of the Senate is very much up for grabs on November 4, and Republicans need just six seats to gain the bare majority of 51 (if they get 50, Vice President Biden can break the tie). Currently, most experts say there’s a 60% chance of Senate control changing hands… and a Republican Senate, combined with a Republican House, could mean a substantial shift in economic policy.

Two Vastly Different Outcomes:

For example, Let’s take a look at how both a Republican- and Democrat-controlled Senate would affect investors…

If the Republicans win control of the Senate, monetary policy will become tighter. Most (though not all) Republicans want a tighter monetary policy than the Democrats, and Republicans worry about the effects of the monetary “stimulus” of the last six years.

Of course, Janet Yellen, in office until at least January 2018, will remain in charge of the Fed. However, the Senate must confirm new Fed Governors, so the monetary hawks on the Federal Open Market Committee will be strengthened over time. More importantly, Janet Yellen must appear before Congress twice yearly; with Republicans in charge in both houses, she’ll probably trim policy towards their preferences.

Meanwhile, the current economic recovery is already five years old, and the stock market has risen over 100% since 2009. Mathematically there must be a significant chance of a market crash and accompanying recession before the 2016 elections therefore. If a crash is bound to occur, the Republicans, hoping to blame any trouble on President Obama, would want it to happen before the election. Conversely, with a Democrat Senate, Yellen’s own preference for loose money will be given free rein. My guess is, in that case, interest rates will rise very little – if at all – before the 2016 elections, and we may see a further burst of “quantitative easing” bond purchases. That would prolong the economic recovery as far as possible, something the Democrats want to ensure leading up to the 2016 election. Two more years of expansion and increasing employment before the election would make President Obama’s economic record look stellar, since he took over in a downturn.

A Republican Congress:

Should the Republicans win, as is currently predicted, Congress is likely to make some significant policy changes. A Republican Senate won’t be able to push Republican policies over President Obama’s opposition – there will be no repeal of Obamacare, for example – but combined with a Republican House, it’ll be able to push the debate on issues such as public spending in its direction. A Republican Senate would likely work to reduce the budget deficit from its current $486 billion – at least while the current expansion continues – rather than allowing it to increase, as the Congressional Budget Office currently predicts.

Conversely, defense spending would increase rapidly under a Republican Senate. In fact, Republicans have already expressed unhappiness with the sharp rundown caused by the “sequester” deal last year. Furthermore, a Republican Senate would likely try to close the U.S. Eximbank. This institution has come under considerable fire as an example of “crony capitalism,” lending taxpayer money at concessionary rates to foreign governments with poor credit ratings.The Eximbank has its supporters within the Republican Party – large companies such as Boeing (BA) and General Electric (GE)benefit hugely from it, for instance – but if leadership wanted to give some red meat to the party’s ideological base, closing the Eximbank would be an obvious gesture.

Finally, on taxes, a Republican Senate is likely to move towards reforming the tax system by closing loopholes in both personal and corporate taxes and lowering the corporate tax rate. This would benefit companies currently paying close to the full nominal rate of 35%, while hitting companies such as GE that pay little tax.

Post-Election Markets:

If the Republicans win, look at major defense contractors (but not Boeing, which depends on U.S. Eximbank). As discussed above, a Democrat Senate will attempt to keep interest rates as low as possible for as long as possible, and Fed Chairman Janet Yellen is temperamentally inclined to go along with them.

Government Affairs Firm, Duane Morris Government Strategies (DMGS) Development Finance Consultants, devise tailored plans for clients that enable proposed development plans to become successful projects. DMGS has specialized project experience in commercial real estate development, municipal infrastructure, historic preservation, transit oriented development, green building, affordable housing and the associated economic development programs.

Author Martin Milita, worked with Lockheed Martin on approval of a $40 million “Grow NJ” grant through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) for new machinery and equipment as well as modifications to Lockheed Martin’s Aegis testing facility located in Moorestown, NJ, which employs approximately 4,000 people. A condition of the NJEDA award was Lockheed winning the Aegis contract. The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin the 5-year, $100 million contract to provide combat system engineering services – including the design, development, integration, test and life cycle support – for all Aegis-equipped ships.

Lobbying 101-The Best Time to Lobby

The Best Time to Lobby

Several weeks before a bill is considered at any level, Elected’s  and their staffs’ meet to plan strategies and take positions on a bill. If your lobbying effort is too late, a decision may have already been made. If you lobby too early, the impact of the lobbying effort may have been lost in the intervening time.

The best time to lobby is when a representative or senator is considering writing or sponsoring a bill that will benefit or harm your cause. If you make your position known at this stage, you have a greater opportunity to influence the legislation or even kill the Bill.

For example, Preservationists can participate in many different ways as a bill progresses through its many stages toward enactment. You should inform your representative or senators of your position on a bill soon after it is introduced and suggest any changes you would like to see made. If its positive for you, encourage them to show their support by becoming a cosponsor of the bill, or, if a negative, ask them to oppose the legislation.

Two or three weeks before a proposal is at a decision point in the legislative process, reinforce your position with a letter, phone call, e-mail, or personal visit..

Follow the bill’s process closely. You will need to reinforce your position with your member and other members as the bill reaches each step of the legislative process.

Lobbying during election time: Election time and during campaigns offer a perfect opportunity for grassroots lobbyists.  Candidates of both parties will spend time in their districts, giving you the chance to attend candidate forums, debates, or other gatherings to ask for their views on preservation to keep to our example. These public forums will expose preservation issues and the candidate’s stand on them to a broader audience. This is also the time to submit questions on preservation to candidates during meetings, public forums, or when they are canvassing a neighborhood. Try to elicit specific commitments of support. These become powerful lobbying tools later.

Candidates at all levels of government respond to voting power. Your vote can be a positive force. After the election, congratulate the winning candidate and offer your assistance on legislation affecting historic preservation.

Remember, a bill must be passed by both the lower and upper houses.  If your representative is not sympathetic to an issue, lobby your senator and vice versa.

Martin Milita is a senior director  with Duane Morris Government Strategies, a consultancy and lobbying firm that represents clients seeking the support of state- and federal-level government agencies. Commanding a career that spans more than three decades, Martin Milita possesses extensive experience serving private and public sector clients in legislative affairs and activities. Martin Milita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from King’s College and a Juris Doctor from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University.

Lobbying 101.4: Why Lobby

Why Lobby?

All elected officials, from the president of the United States to city council members, hold their positions because they won a majority of the votes cast in an election. Your role in the political process does not end at the voting booth. Once you have put these officials in a position of power, it is important to ensure that they are informed and can make decisions that will benefit your town, city, and the Nation writ large. Chances are you have expertise that may be a valuable resource for your elected officials.

Congress passes hundreds of bills during each legislative session. To do this, the members must depend on their small staffs, both in the district and in Washington, to research issues, recommend positions, and draft legislation. Your expertise—offered through lobbying—is critical to the legislative process.

Federal legislation, such as the yearly appropriation of funds and changes in tax policy, can directly affect matters important to you and your community.

When you lobby with facts, figures, and strong arguments, your representative and senators will be able to assess the legislation and make an informed decision about how to vote. Always remember, those on the other side of the issue are lobbying too!

Every voter should lobby because it produces more responsive legislators and a more responsive government.

Author Martin Milita, is a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, where he offers clients a singular blend of business savvy, political acumen, and policy know how.

Duane Morris Government Strategies is a bipartisan government relations firm. Duane Morris Government Strategies represent clients before the federal government and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.  Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals offer a full complement of government-affairs services, including legislative and executive branch advocacy, policy analysis, assistance with government procurement and funding programs, and crisis management.

Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals have held high-level political positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and have run and played active roles in federal, state and local political campaigns. They have also worked for members of Congress, congressional and state committees, and presidential and gubernatorial transition teams. Also at Duane Morris Government Strategies disposal are hundreds of seasoned attorneys from the Duane Morris law firm who have handled complex legal issues in the public and private sectors across a multitude of industries

Lobbying 101 Continued: Strong Voices

We have already seen that for many folks, lobbying conjures up dark  images of back rooms, back slaps and spoils. But we have also seen that those images are far from the truth. Casting your ballot in the voting booth may be the most fundamental of democratic acts, but talking to your elected and appointed officials—lobbying–is the indispensable step.

We used an example of historic preservationists- but every other group of citizens- preservationists or not-, have the prerogative and the responsibility to let elected and appointed officials, federal, state and local know their actions have consequences, positive and negative.

Lobbying  (or Lobbying 101) is designed to acquaint you with the lobbying techniques, and resources available to aid in advocacy.  Its information and recommendations can be applied to federal, state and local advocacy for executive, legislative, grassroots, procurement and finance.

Remember:

Lobbying is nothing more than simply being a strong voice for things that are important to you in your community.

The most fundamental part of lobbying is establishing positive long-term, working relationships with your elected and appointed representatives, laying the groundwork for taking specific action when the need or the opportunity arises.

Martin Milita, is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has successfully lobbied for statutes, agency rules, and agency permits in the United States, both state and federal governments, in Canada and within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe and North America.