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K Street Files: No End for K Street Deficit Lobbying

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Ex-Rep. Dave McCurdy cited a need to enact a deficit reduction package that includes a "pro-growth" tax overhaul with entitlement reform.

A coalition of consumer, labor, health, scientific, environmental and government watchdog groups is gearing up for a post-Thanksgiving push to fight new GOP-authored bills aimed at reining in federal rules.

"We will be working hard to explain to people that these bills aren't as innocent as they seem," said Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of Congress Watch at Public Citizen, which is helping spearhead the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards. The coalition includes several dozen groups, including the AFL-CIO, Consumer Federation of America, Friends of the Earth and People for the American Way.

Congress is expected to take up two regulatory reform bills — the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act — the week after Thanksgiving. Coalition members plan a series of lobby days that week aimed at convincing Members that, far from killing jobs as the bills' authors argue, federal regulations protect public health and safety.

The Regulatory Accountability Act, sponsored in the Senate by Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and in the House by Lamar Smith (R-Texas), particularly alarms coalition members. That legislation seems "very innocuous" on the surface, Gilbert said, in that it subjects proposed regulations to exhaustive administrative review.

"Who doesn't want to have a better sense of the cost benefit of the rule or a little more judicial oversight?" Gilbert asked. "What they don't explain is that most of these proposals would end the ability of many agencies to promulgate any rules." This Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is a revival of a similar lobbying coalition launched in the 1990s, when the GOP-led Congress introduced similar regulatory curbs.

On the Move

Pat Cleary starts Dec. 5 as the new president of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations. Cleary, who was senior vice president of digital public affairs in Washington for Fleishman-Hillard, is a former Labor Department deputy assistant secretary for policy.

Patrick Johnson and Sonya Clay have joined the federal affairs department of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Johnson previously had a five-year stint on Capitol Hill, serving as a legislative assistant for health affairs to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and to former Delaware Sens. Joseph Biden (D) and Ted Kaufman (D). Clay was an independent government relations and media consultant specializing in health and equality issues.

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Correction: Nov. 22, 2011

An earlier version of this article listed the wrong House sponsor for the Regulatory Accountability Act. The legislation’s House author is Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

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