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If Congress is back from recess, it must be time for the annual Hill blitz, the one sign of spring in Washington surer than cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.
This year is no exception, with every coalition, association and organization in town pressing hard to get a place on Congress full plate.
First up is health care, with both the American Heart Association and the American Hospital Association bringing advocates to Washington this month. More than 450 heart disease and stroke survivors, dressed in red, will pound the halls of Congress on Tuesday to ask for quick action on health care reform, while 1,800 doctors, hospital administrators and employees representing the American Hospital Association will come to town the last week of April to tell lawmakers how the economic crisis is impacting their industry.
Lobbying days, when an organization brings its members to Washington to blitz the Hill and meet with Members of Congress and staff, have long been a favorite tool of lobbyists, a way to use real people, aka voters back home, to bring policy arguments to life.
Theres no better advocate for our industry than actual practitioners, said Steve OConnor, senior vice president of government affairs for the Mortgage Bankers Association. They can speak to how policy is affecting their customers, their business and their employees.
OConnors group will host its National Policy Conference the week of April 27, bringing in over 200 mortgage lenders and bankers representing the associations 2,500 member companies. At the top of their talking points will be opposition to cram-down legislation the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act moving through the Senate.
Not to be outdone by health care reform and the economy, groups pushing for climate legislation are also making a move this month. The Natural Resources Defense Council will bring 18 leaders from its Environmental Entrepreneurs program to the Hill on Wednesday Earth Day, naturally to brief Members of Congress on the need to create green jobs through passage of comprehensive climate legislation.
And, rest assured, these rites of spring are not complete without the requisite awards and receptions to honor their favorite Members. Time to pull out your ethics manual.
Strange Bedfellows. The Sierra Club and a free-market group are teaming up again to fight legislation this Congress that they claim will encourage development on beaches and other areas prone to natural disasters.
If stupid rich people want to build in risky locations, thats their right, but the proposed legislation would subsidize many of the worst possible building decisions, says Eli Lehrer, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The proposed legislation is an awful, awful idea.