On K Street, waiting for the Supreme Court’s health care ruling goes something like this: schedule post-decision client conference calls, write multiple drafts of talking points for different outcomes, and hole up in a conference room trying to figure out whether constitutional law-speak can translate into English.
Every interest with a stake in the health care overhaul — which covers basically every lobbyist in town — has been waiting and speculating on whether the statute survives a constitutional challenge. And they are waiting some more with the decision not due until Thursday.
“The work is and has been: sitting in windowless rooms with lawyers and legal analysts trying to do scenario planning and decision trees,” explained the Raben Group’s Robert Raben, a former House Judiciary Committee counsel.
Larry McNeely, manager of policy communications and advocacy for the National Coalition on Health Care, said his office — from senior staff to the summer interns — has been waiting “with bated breath, glued to the SCOTUS blog.”
“I’ve written a number of variations on three different press releases” depending on which way the court goes, he added.
A spokesman for one of the most closely watched parties, America’s Health Insurance Plans, declined to comment on internal strategy, meetings or whether it’s set up a SCOTUS war room. But spokesman Robert Zirkelbach did say the health care plan lobby plans to trumpet how a requirement in the law that would make insurers cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, is inextricably linked with other insurance reforms.
Of course, there’s only so much that lobbyists can do in advance. And some K Streeters caution that as crazy as this week promises to be post-ruling, the real lobbying will spin well into next year.
Even so, the health care decision will play big on the campaign trail, meaning stakeholders will have to hit the road with their messaging, too.
Tax People Cometh to the Hill
While everyone waits for the health care decision, a collection of tax executives is planning a day of lobbying Wednesday.
Tax vice presidents from such companies as Altria, Macy’s and Raytheon will spend the day meeting with senior Treasury officials as well as Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), among others, according to organizers of the event.
They are hoping that meetings early in the tax reform process will help them shape the debate.
“The Coalition’s tax VPs are ideally suited to describe, in fine-grained detail, just how America’s ‘dubiously world-leading’ 35 percent corporate tax rate and incredibly complex corporate tax code are hurting job creation and economic growth,” said James Pinkerton, who co-chairs the Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably coalition.
Setting Up Shop
There’s a new firm in town — and in New York, Beijing and Brussels.
Lane Bailey, the former president of public affairs at Golin|Harris, is opening the Advocom Group along with A.J. Donelson, who was head of 3M’s Washington lobby outpost.
Bailey in an interview said his new business would focus on a lot more than lobbying. “Washington is still hugely important; lobbyists are hugely important,” he added. “But there’s a bigger dynamic going on. It involves corporate leadership and capital markets, how you’re perceived by consumers and investors,” said Bailey, a former chief of staff for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
Government affairs, corporate leadership and capital markets are all part of the advocacy world now, Bailey said. “Advocacy, public policy, is global, and you’ve got to think of it like that.”
Advocom’s domestic hires include Christa Carey Dunn, Randi Kahn, Jeff Kimball, Ken Levinson, Holly Page and Carolyn Tieger with international hires John Russell and Robert Magyar.
The group will announce its clients in the next few weeks, Bailey said, declining to name them now.
And DelPizzo Makes Nine
Alex DelPizzo, most recently a partner with Winning Strategies, is moving his lobbying practice to Thorn Run Partners. He is the 2-year-old shop’s ninth lobbyist.
Before decamping for K Street, DelPizzo was legislative director for then-Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), focusing on health care, energy, telecom and transportation. He also worked for former Transportation Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.).
DelPizzo and Thorn Run already shared clients including Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck. “I’ve seen this firm as it has grown, and I have always been impressed with their level of service,” DelPizzo said of his decision to join the shop. “For me, personally, this gives me a great bipartisan platform.”
He is bringing with him several clients including Advanced Drainage Systems.
“The most enjoyable part about running a firm is being able to surround yourself with people you want to go to work with everyday,” firm co-founder Andy Rosenberg said. “He’s super smart and super diligent.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.