Commentary Magazine


Lobbyists Swarm DC as “Super Committee” Appointments Loom

The members of the deficit-cutting “super committee” won’t be appointed until August 16, but K Street is already getting a head start on what’s sure to be the most high-pressure period of political lobbying in recent memory.

The National Journal has a roundup of some of the ways lobbyists are already working to influence the committee before it’s even formed. These tactics range from pressuring congressional leadership to appoint industry-friendly lawmakers to the committee, rallying grassroots activists, and trying to pinpoint the sub-panels that will be making recommendations to the super committee.

The prospect of major cuts from such a wide swath of industries in such a short amount of time means Washington is bracing itself for the largest influx of influence-peddlers its seen in decades:

The size and scope of the task appear unprecedented. The closest comparison, Washington insiders say: 1986 tax reform. Except instead of having two years to finish the job, lawmakers have four months, putting the “normal congressional committee process on steroids,” as GOP lobbyist Jack Howard put it. “There are more nervous lobbyists in this town tonight than [anytime] since 1986,” Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said. “It will be a feast for them in the short term, but a lot of them are going to lose.”

The super committee is set to hold its first meeting in mid-September, and its budget recommendations are due November 23. As of now, it looks like the negotiations will be conducted solely behind closed doors, with little-to-no transparency. With swarms of lobbyists injecting themselves into the debate, it becomes even more important for Congress and the White House to keep the public informed of the super committee’s deliberations. If special interest groups are going to try to guide the negotiations, then the average American should at least be aware of what’s going on at the table.