Bloomberg Government: Business’ High Hopes for Hill Action Hinge on GOP Healing Rift

June 12, 2023

Bloomberg Government: Business’ High Hopes for Hill Action Hinge on GOP Healing Rift

June 12, 2023

Mark Williams

Mark Williams


Principal Mark Williams shared his expert outlook in a Bloomberg Government article by Kate Ackley article titled “Business’ High Hopes for Hill Action Hinge on GOP Healing Rift.”

Lobbyists said they’re bracing for unease as House GOP leaders point fingers at each other, but they’re still looking for workarounds for clients.

“I absolutely think cooler heads will prevail on this,” said Mark Williams.

Check out the full article here and below.

Business’ High Hopes for Hill Action Hinge on GOP Healing Rift

By Kate Ackley

June 9, 2023

  • Gas stoves, rulemaking roles on Republicans’ agenda again
  • Senate focuses on nominees when both chambers return Monday

Lobbyists’ hopes for action this Congress, buoyed by the recent debt-ceiling deal, got a reality check this week after House Republicans couldn’t even move a slate of their own party’s messaging bills.

That a small group of conservative rabble-rousers could block measures attacking federal regulations is forcing lobbyists to wonder what might be ahead for other priorities such as new tax provisions, the farm bill and appropriations. It made for quite a shift from what GOP leaders planned: Harmony within their party and with the K Street business community — fragile alliances in this Congress.

“Legislating is a messy business, and sometimes there are bumps in the road, detours that you don’t anticipate,” said Neil Bradley, who heads strategic advocacy at the Chamber of Commerce, a group that’s sometimes at odds with House Republican leaders and conservatives in recent years.

Bradley, a one-time House GOP leadership aide, said the main thing he’s focused on is House Republicans’ agreement on deregulatory measures. The conservative faction jammed up the floor for other reasons, including angst over last week’s debt-ceiling deal.

“Their efforts to rein in the regulators, who are really exceeding their authority, is the absolute right direction, and I’m confident that they’re going to get there,” Bradley said.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), a sponsor of one of the measures planned for a vote this week barring federal regulations against gas stoves, said her bill is backed by home builders and restaurant lobbies. Another bill House members slated for a vote this week would require congressional approval for major federal rules.

Lesko said the legislation has “quite broad support.”

Lobbyists said they’re bracing for unease as House GOP leaders point fingers at each other, but they’re still looking for workarounds for clients.

“I think this dysfunction is worse than most,” said former Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), now a partner with K&L Gates, whose clients this year include TikTok parent company ByteDance, according to lobbying disclosures. “What you have to do is just get yourself ready for when there’s an opening.”

Tonya Saunders, founder of Washington Premier Group, agreed: “In this gridlock, you’re looking for a way to get the most people lined up on your bill so that eventually when your issue can be considered, it has support to get to the floor.”

Gordon said sometimes congressional stalemate leads to lobbying the executive branch.

“Congress is acquiescing more authority to the executive branch, which I’m not happy about,” Gordon said. “You hate to see this continuing cycle, but it’s there and if you have clients, then you can go to the executive branch or whatever agency or department to see if you can’t get relief.”

Most lobbyists said they expect House Republicans to ultimately smooth things over.

“I absolutely think cooler heads will prevail on this,” said Mark Williams, a former House GOP staffer turned principal at the lobbying firm Ferox Strategies, whose clients include Walmart and Eli Lilly.

But it might be rough in the meantime.

“It’s probably going to be more of a tumultuous week going into next week until they’re able to find a way forward,” said Kimberly Ellis, a lobbyist at Monument Advocacy, whose registered clients include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave the slip to reporters Thursday amid his fight with ultra-conservatives over his deal with President Joe Biden.

An aide told the assembled reporters on the Capitol’s second floor McCarthy (R-Calif.) left and wasn’t coming back. The crowd dispersed, only for McCarthy to emerge from a downstairs exit several minutes later.

“I think we’re making a lot of progress,” McCarthy said as he brusquely walked away from two reporters who spotted him.

The camera-friendly speaker’s attempt at a stealth getaway is the latest sign of trouble for McCarthy. Talks between the speaker, who said he was “blindsided,” and the dissidents continued into Thursday with no resolution.

The embarrassing episode raises questions about the fate of an expected Ukraine aid package later this year and spending bills to keep the government running past Sept. 30 — all of which will require compromise with Democrats that will further divide his party. Billy House and Steven T. Dennis follow the latest in the split.

McCarthy may find common cause with some of the conservatives when it comes to defending former President Donald Trump.

After Trump said he was being indicted, the speaker called it a “dark day” on Twitter and said that “House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), one of the no votes that halted business this week, used similar language. “The weaponization of our government is totally out of control and we need to do everything in our power to bring it under control!” she said in a tweet.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), another no vote, had a specific proposal in mind in his comments: “We ought to defund and dismantle the DOJ.”


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