Summer Reading Assignment:
Donna Mullins Looks Ahead to a New Administration and Congress

It has been eight years since we ushered in a new Administration in Washington. A lot of our clients are asking:  Will the issue I care about still be on the agenda next year? Will this decision maker still be in this Department? Can we just start where we left off this year with the Committee and staff? Will things really be that different?

The answer is simple: It WILL be different, and it will be busy.

Historically, the first two years of a new Administration are the most productive.  Expect a quick deal on unfinished business left over from this year, either in a lame duck session after the November election or early next year. A new Administration will want the decks cleared so they can roll out their own key initiatives.  And they will roll out that agenda with the endorsement of the American public on election day, and with a new starting lineup of Cabinet Secretaries to engage Capitol Hill to get quick action on the same. Think tax reform. Entitlement reform. Immigration reform. Transportation. Health Care Reform. National Security. And more.

And Congress will have its own share of changes. In the House, there will be key new Committee Chairs, and Speaker Ryan will take his own first full shot at a policy agenda. Another dramatic change could come with the potential for the Senate flipping to Democrat control, and with that a whole new leadership team setting their agenda.  Imagine the key staffers you are used to dealing busy relocating from majority to minority offices, or vice versa, as a result. Plenty of key staffers (and some Members too!) also are likely to depart their current jobs for roles in a new Administration.

The bottom line:  You can’t wait until next year to get started on discerning where your agenda might align, or run counter, to a new Administration and the next Congress. 

So here are a few suggested summer reading assignments to pack in your bag this summer, whether you are headed off in a few weeks to the Presidential Nominating Conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, or – if you are more fortunate – headed off to the beach.

·        Read the Republican and Democrat Party Platforms when they are issued. The Republican National Committee has named three conservatives to lead the committee writing their party’s platform. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso will chair the committee with co-chairs Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx.  For the Democrats, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland will chair the committee with a majority of Clinton supporters appointed both by Clinton herself and DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In a recent major concession to Bernie Sanders, the DNC allowed him to name 5 members to the Committee.  His picks include people from outside the usual sphere of party influence, including a Native American activist and racial justice activist.  Please note, I do NOT expect these documents to be a particularly good read, but rather informative of where the party’s – and their various internal constituencies – land on key policies and in what priority order.

·        And remember the Contract with America? Keep an eye on Speaker Ryan’s “Confident America” Agenda that will be unveiled in six policy papers to be issued this month and are driven by Task Forces made up of Committee Chairs with jurisdiction on: National Security; Tax Reform; Health Care Reform; Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility (released this week); Reducing Regulatory Burdens; and Restoring Constitutional Authority.

There will be plenty more to read up on with initiatives being floated daily in Congress and by other entities for the distinct purpose of shaping the agenda of the new Administration and Congress.  So now is not the time to slow down but rather ramp up your reading on what Congress, the candidates, and thought leaders are pushing in terms of big policy agenda items for next year.

And just to lighten it up a bit, I am packing “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies” by Kate Andersen Brower in my bag.  I can only imagine that the next First “Lady” is going to add an interesting chapter to this book.

Lastly, send me your suggested summer reading at dmullins@wswdc.com and we will happily post additional WSW Summer Reading suggestions!

Donna Mullins, Managing Partner