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Washington's lobby machine cranks up for Round Two

  • Article by: ERIC LIPTON
  • New York Times
  • October 19, 2013 - 7:17 PM

Throughout the tense fiscal deadlock in recent weeks, some of the most powerful forces in Washington largely sat on the sidelines. Now they are preparing for a political fight with billions of federal dollars at stake.

With automatic cuts, a result of sequestration, to the military set to take effect by January, and a separate round of cuts scheduled for Medicare, lawmakers will have to decide who gets hit the hardest, prompting Washington’s lobbying machine — representing a wide range of corporate interests — to gear up to ensure that their slice of federal money is spared in new negotiations over government spending.

So far, the defense industry is likely to be hit the hardest, as the automatic cuts set for January would slice an additional $20 billion from the Pentagon’s budget.

“It’s fair to say the volume in Washington is going to be deafening,” said Marion Blakey, chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to mitigate those cuts by spreading them among various social programs, like education funding and Social Security, bringing dozens of other special-interest groups into the picture.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he regrets that Congress has created a situation where another budget fight is about to begin — immediately after a crisis ended.

“I have to believe the American people are totally fatigued with this issue, and to be candid, I am pretty fatigued with it myself,” he said in an interview Friday. “It is almost an embarrassment to keep bringing it up.”

For lobbying firms, fights like this are good for business. Separately, major American corporations like the Silicon Valley tech giants are again preparing to step up their campaign to persuade Congress to pass a comprehensive ­immigration law.

The lobbying factions will not, in most cases, be attacking one another. But with Republicans insisting that they will not back down from spending limits set by the 2011 legislation that created the sequester cuts, and the Republicans also rejecting calls by Democrats for new tax revenue, cuts will almost certainly have to hit some interests, creating unavoidable conflict.

“Everybody who has a piece of pie is now going to try to protect their piece of the pie,” said Steve Elmendorf, a former House aide who now runs a Washington lobbying firm that represents defense and health care industries, each of which will be engaged in the debate.





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