K Street Files: GM Trims Wish List

Posted August 18, 2009 at 2:40pm

General Motors Co. recently refiled its lobbying disclosures with the Senate records office, revealing a lean legislative agenda for the automaker.

[IMGCAP(1)]The company last Friday reregistered its Washington, D.C., office in a brief four-page filing outlining general issues like health care and taxes on which the company, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, will lobby the legislative branch.

Barely a month ago, GM filed a massive 20-page lobbying disclosure statement detailing arcane legislative issues such as Employee Retirement Income Security Act pre-emption that not long ago the once-powerful company — which was bailed out by the government using taxpayer funds — would routinely twist the arms of lawmakers to tweak.

In an e-mail, a company spokesman insisted the new filing changes nothing.

“To cite Freud’s famous, some times a cigar is just a cigar,’ … since we are a new company, we need a new registration,— the spokesman said.

EFCA Deal in Works. Senate negotiators continue to work on a deal for contentious “card check— legislation, although no compromise is expected before the end of the August recess, a well-placed Democratic source told K Street Files this week.

Party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) breathed new life into the proposal last week when he announced that he would vote for cloture on the yet-to-be-introduced Employee Free Choice Act compromise.

Bad PhRMA. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a letter Monday scolded the pharmaceutical industry for playing nice with Democrats during the ongoing health care reform debate.

“Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy. This is as true in the arena of policymaking as it is in schoolyards across America. When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over. But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the deal’ means helping him steal others’ money as the price of protecting your own,— Boehner wrote to PhRMA President Billy Tauzin, a former Congressman from Louisiana.

“The simple truth is, two wrongs don’t make a right. And the short-sighted health care deal PhRMA struck with the Obama Administration at your urging provides confirmation of this time-tested maxim on an epic and tragic scale,— Boehner added.

Tauzin struck a deal last month with President Barack Obama to trim $80 billion in Medicare drug costs to help pay for the White House’s health care overhaul proposal.

To say the least, Republicans remain livid with Tauzin, their one-time House colleague and a former Democrat who switched parties and joined the GOP after the 1994 elections.

The trade group on Tuesday defended its deal with the White House, arguing that compromise is good for its members and for patients.

“We have been working diligently for more than a year to advance bipartisan health care reform,— PhRMA spokesman Ken Johnson said in a statement. “We’re proud of those efforts, and they are completely consistent with our core principals, reflecting a fundamental belief that every single American should have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage and services.—

Immigration Groups Mobilize. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are launching an aggressive lobbying campaign to push comprehensive immigration reform forward.

The Asian American Justice Center, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Japanese American Citizens League, among others, are combining forces for their first-ever collective week of action.

The push began Monday and is set to continue through the fall. The groups are holding town halls with Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley on Saturday, as well as legislative visits across California.

“Immigration reform is a defining issue for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,— Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, said in a statement. “The right legislation legalizes millions in our communities, reunites thousands of families, and signals that the U.S. welcomes Asian and other immigrants.—

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