By Kevin Bogardus
November 22, 2011
The end of the supercommittee is just the beginning for Washington’s lobbyists.
The debt panel’s inability to reach an agreement on the deficit won’t trigger reductions in defense and healthcare spending until 2013, giving those powerful sectors and their lobbyists at least a year to wriggle away from the budget ax.
The panel’s failure could also make for a busy holiday season on Capitol Hill, since the agreement from the 12-member committee was considered a likely legislative vehicle for a number of expiring programs and tax breaks.
“The chaos in Washington always breeds opportunity. That is my view,” said Barry Rhoads, president of Cassidy & Associates.
The spending cuts that are set to begin in 2013 include about $454 billion in sequestered reductions from defense programs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Rhoads, a defense lobbyist, said sequestration would be “devastating” for America’s fighting force.
“No one should be playing ostrich on this,” Rhoads said. “You will have to protect certain programs from cuts.”
Michael Herson, president of American Defense International (ADI), said he would be watching the Defense Department’s next budget request, which will likely be submitted in February. If that request reflects the spending cuts under sequestration, lobbyists will spring into action.
“If that’s the case, we’re going to be spending the year trying to restore those cuts,” Herson said. If the Pentagon’s budget request does not contain those cuts, it means a deal to change the sequestration is in the works.
“Either way, it’s a very active year,” Herson said.