What Influences Congress

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Key Factors Influencing Legislative Actions


Wright H. Andrews, Esq. - Partner, Butera & Andrews




Questions & Comments


Sound Technical & Policy Arguments/Solutions


Do you really know the facts and substance of the issues? Do positions ring true and make sense? Are proposed solutions understandable and logical?


Level of Congressional Understanding of Issues


Do relevant Committees/Members understand issues? Does full House and Senate?


Nature & Scope of Legislation


Offense or defense (i.e., pass or stop action)? Comprehensive or narrow changes? Technical? Broad or limited industry impact?


Media Coverage


Positive or negative? Extensive or occasional articles? Balanced or one-sided coverage?


Public & Congressional Perceptions


Problem? Unfair? Abuse? Good or bad?


Strong General Grassroots Interest


Is there existing general public support or opposition on the issue? (E.g., Cut my taxes! Don't cut my Social Security!) 

  Impact on Local Voters   How might the issue impact on Senate/House Member/local constituents? Do they and/or their voters know this?
  Costs, Jobs & Competitiveness   What budgetary/tax cost impacts are involved? Will jobs be created or lost? Does the issue impact U.S. global competitiveness positively or negatively?
  Grassroots Lobbying Targeted At Key Senate/House Members   Do interested parties have significant in-house grassroots capabilities for targeted officials? Can they afford to hire grassroots firm? 
  Committee and/or Subcommittee Support & Interest Level   What are positions of Chairmen, Ranking Members, other Committee members? Are they really interested? What are their other priorities? 
  Congressional Leadership(s) Positions   Active support or opposition? Indifference? Behind scenes help or attack?
  Administrations Position   Major Presidential priority? Personal Presidential involvement?
  Political Strength & Level of Commitment of Leading Sponsors/Supporters (i.e., A Good Horse)   Are sponsors powerful, capable and committed to issue? Real or token support?
  Campaign Contributions   What past campaign contributions have interested parties made? What future contributions might they make?
  Timing   Is time available in legislative schedule? Is issue viewed as ripe for action? Might it have a significant election impact? Is a legislative vehicle available for action?
  Nature & Strength of Opposition   Who are opponents and how are they perceived? Are they well organized? Well funded? Highly motivated?
  Direct Contacts by Professional Lobbyists with Senate/House Members & Staff   Are lobbyists actively working issue? How many lobbyists are involved and who are they? How much political clout do they have? Is the issue a priority for them? What else are they working on?
  CEO Involvement   Are high profile CEOs willing to participate in Hill visits? Will CEOs help recruit industry/coalition support? Are CEOs backing lobbying effort with substantial economic resources?
  Industry Positions   Is this an issue of interest to broad industry groups? Is there an industry consensus or split?
  Coalition Lobbying Efforts   Are lobbying coalitions involved? Can you form a strong, broad-based, well managed, formal coalition? Who should be in it? Is a coalition opposing you?
  Significant Economic Resource Commitment to Lobbying Program   Do you and allies understand level of economic commitment required to win or at least be competitive? Are parties willing and able to fund a credible and competitive lobbying effort?
  Lobbying Strategy   What is the general lobbying strategy? Is it sound/realistic? What=s the likelihood of success? Should it be changed? What are the alternatives?
  Planning & Management of Lobbying Program   How can lobbying program be designed and carried out most effectively and efficiently? How will the activities be coordinated and managed?
  Quality of Lobbying Materials & Presentations   Are lobbying materials clear, concise and professional quality? Are they interesting and understandable? Do they communicate effectively?
  Personal Relationships of Lobbyists & Clients with key Senate/House Members & staff   Which of the lobbyists and/or their clients have strong personal relationships with key Congressional policy makers?
  Lobbyists Judgments & Skills   Is your lobbyist an experienced professional with a proven successful track-record? Does your lobbyist offer sound, reasoned judgments? Does your lobbyist understand your industry and have a good substantive knowledge of the key relevant issues?
  Other Lobbying/PR Tactics   What other lobbying/PR tactics might be helpful? (E.g., trade-off or link with other issues; compromise; spotlight A horror stories; raise jurisdictional or procedural concerns; etc.)

The relative importance of factors listed in this table vary from case to case; therefore, no attempt has been made here to list them in order of importance or priority.  Also, no listing such as this is ever all inclusive and other factors not listed herein may play a significant influential role.

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