Lobbyists Prepare Eleventh-Hour Messaging Before August Recess

Kate Ackley, Roll Call
July 9, 2012

K Street is running out of time.

The four-week stretch before the August recess might sound like a long haul, especially for this Congress. But by lobbyists’ count, they have at most 16 legislative days left before politics completely swamps the Capitol Hill agenda.

“You’re squeezed,” GOP lobbyist Kathryn Lehman of Holland & Knight said. “You’ve got four weeks left before we really go into total political mode. We’re mostly there now on the big stuff.”

John Jonas, who heads the health care practice at Patton Boggs, said his shop is urging clients to press their case, even if Congress isn’t likely to cross much off its to-do list. “The messaging we’ve been giving to our clients is, this is the critical last window you really have,” Jonas said.

Once Congress leaves town, Members will gear up for the political conventions and are likely to return for only a handful of days in the fall. Much of July’s legislative docket is already steeped in election-year messaging, with the Republican-controlled House  scheduled to hold a Wednesday vote to repeal the health care law and Senate Democrats pushing for consideration of the DISCLOSE Act. Neither measure is expected to advance.

Still, lobbyists say they’re trying to influence policy proposals, such as the farm bill in the House, appropriations and tariff measures and other items — none immune, of course, to politics. They’re also looking to grab the ears of Members while they can in the hope of positioning their clients favorably for the lame-duck
session and into next year.

“Now’s a good time to come and do your meetings,” Jonas said. “The fact that they’re not going to enact much legislation is no reason not to be here.”

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