K Street Files: PhRMA’s Take

Posted May 15, 2009 at 5:42pm

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the clock is ticking for lawmakers, the White House and private industry to fix the nation’s health care system, but he’s “very confident— a law will be passed this year.

[IMGCAP(1)]President Barack Obama is “keenly aware that the honeymoon is not going to last,— Tauzin said. “He’s on exactly the right timetable.—

In an interview Thursday, Tauzin and David Brennan, drugmaker AstraZeneca’s CEO, discussed the prospects of health care legislation now being drafted in both chambers. And while Tauzin said a bill would pass before 2010, they predicted that process could get tense when Congressional negotiators start crunching the numbers in earnest and determining exactly what role — if any — the federal government will have in covering the country’s 40 million-plus uninsured.

“The financing is going to be so touchy,— Brennan said.

Tauzin also predicted that both chambers will pass bills by October, using the remaining two months of the year to sort out their differences in conference. The House, he said, is expected to produce legislation that “we’ll probably not like very much.—

The gun-loving Cajun also said his organization remains in good health despite the turbulent economy that has claimed more than 100,000 jobs from PhRMA members alone. He said PhRMA has not had layoffs, although it has frozen some positions.

The bad economy has cost the trade group some member companies, Tauzin said, but it’s brought a few more on in recent months.

“So we’re even,— he said.

Chamber Punches Back. After taking hits from the Natural Resources Defense Council over its stance on climate change, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is coming out swinging.

“The NRDC is trying as best as they can to use their kind of typical tactics to try and get us to endorse what they consider to be the version of the best result of climate change legislation,— said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs.

Josten is responding to a report the NRDC’s Pete Altman put together on the chamber’s 122 board members’ positions on climate change.

Combing through the public documents, annual reports and company statements, Altman found that while the vast majority of the companies don’t have any public position, 19 of the companies stated they were in favor of moving forward with reducing emissions. Four companies were explicitly against climate change legislation.

“The question that really came up for us was why are the chamber staff like Bruce Josten, Bill Kovacs and Tom Donohue apparently so far off where at least their members of their board are on climate change,— Altman said, referring to Kovacs, the chamber’s vice president for the environment, technology and regulatory affairs and chamber President Donohue.

Josten refutes Altman’s research, saying that the chamber has an energy and environment policy committee that determines the chamber’s climate change stance.

Still, it looks like the group may have to take a second look at its position.

At a chamber meeting in late April, several company representatives expressed how their companies’ climate change policies were very different from the business trade groups.

“In my opinion it is inaccurate to call it a debate, and it is especially inaccurate to say that there was no call for changes to the policy when there were a number of members who stated the chamber policy did not represent their corporate position and they were therefore interested in how to change that policy,— said Jeanette Pablo of PNM Resources.

At the time, companies were told that in order to change the group’s policy, committee members would need to file a motion and wait 30 days for members to review the policy before voting on it.

So far, no companies have filed a motion that they want the chamber to revisit it, according to Kovacs.

Working From Home. Two former top in-house lobbyists have each filed their first lobbying registrations for their own shops.

Jack Krumholtz, who led the in-house lobby team at tech giant Microsoft from 1995 to 2008, has opened Krumholtz Strategic Consulting and has registered to represent Home Depot. Krumholtz did not return a call seeking comment, but the disclosure filing says he will work on credit card interchange fees, organized retail crime matters and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Meanwhile, Bill Anaya, formerly a top lobbyist in Motorola’s D.C. office, has opened Anaya Advisors & Advocates. His first registered lobbying client is Verizon Communications on telecom and broadband issues. Anaya was a legislative aide to former House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

K Street Moves. Al From, who played a key role in reshaping the Democratic Party two decades ago, is joining Parven Pomper Strategies, the lobbying firm announced Friday

Parven Pomper works extensively with the powerful bloc of moderate Congressional Democrats, including the 51 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and 68 New Democrats in the House.

From, the founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, will be a senior adviser at the firm but will not lobby on behalf of its clients, which include Panama, South Korea, Visa, Pfizer, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Monsanto, Sunoco, Chevron, FedEx and Time Warner Cable.

Started in 1985 by From and other frustrated Democratic moderates, the DLC helped transition the party’s politics back to the center, a shift first realized in the 1992 presidential victory of Bill Clinton, who was groomed by From’s organization.

From retired from the DLC earlier this spring.

The DLC, which is now run by former Clinton White House adviser Bruce Reed, also spun off two groups that continue to play a primary role in the party: Third Way and NDN, an organization once known as the New Democratic Network.

• Citigroup Democratic lobbyist Jimmy Ryan, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is decamping from the financial services giant to start a practice at Elmendorf Strategies.

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