CoalitionsWritten By: CHRISTIAN KLEIN
Article Date: 11-01-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
One key to success in Washington, D.C.
A number of mantras guide AED's work in the nation's capital. One of the most important: Big things rarely happen without a number of organizations working together. Lobbying coalitions, therefore, play a central role in AED's Government Affairs Program. AED's work on highways is a perfect example. Although we'd like to claim all the credit for the fact that the federal road program has doubled over the last decade, we can't. No single trade association can. Recent gains on the highway front are attributable to the leadership pro-infrastructure members of Congress and to the work of two lobbying coalitions: the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM).
The TCC is co-chaired by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). In addition to AED, TCC's leading members include the Association of Manufacturers (AEM), the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). The ATM, which is managed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, includes construction industry heavyweights, as well as other non-construction groups that support infrastructure investment (e.g., industries that use the nation's roads.)
During the last highway reauthorization, these two coalitions provided a vital forum for association lobbyists to develop common policy positions, prepare lobbying materials, share intelligence about developments on Capitol Hill, undertake joint grassroots lobbying blitzes, and run advertising campaigns. Members of Congress involved in the reauthorization process recognized the critical role lobbying coalitions played and frequently met with coalition leaders to discuss strategy and coordinate messages.
AED's participation in coalitions isn't limited to highway issues. Your association is also a leader in the Clean Water Council, a construction industry coalition headed by the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA). In addition to ongoing lobbying efforts to increase funding for sewer construction, CWC is developing a national public relations campaign designed to educate voters about the nation's $13 billion annual water infrastructure investment shortfall.
Coalitions are also critical to AED's work on the tax front. When Senate Republican leaders proposed eliminating LIFO earlier this year, AED quickly joined forces with other groups representing industry-intensive industries to establish the LIFO Coalition. AED Washington staff worked with a small group of coalition members to develop standard lobbying materials to help explain the issue. AED's coordinated grassroots efforts on the LIFO issue, which included bringing a delegation of distributors to Washington to meet with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), also won kudos from our coalition allies.
Last year's efforts to defeat rental preferences and prevent the Internal Revenue Service from eliminating rental equipment depreciation show there will always be issues that only (or disproportionately) impact equipment distributors. When they arise, AED and its members will have to be prepared to go it alone.
However, with the future of the death tax still uncertain, looming questions about the future solvency of the federal highway program, and rising small business health insurance costs, broad-based coalitions will be part of our Washington strategy for the foreseeable future.
Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY) put it this way when speaking at a recent AED Government Affairs Conference: "Washington's a big town. It's like a machine with a lot of little cogs. It can be hard to get the machine to work properly. But sometimes, if you can get enough of the little cogs to turn in the same direction, you can accomplish something really big."
Lobbying coalitions are the key to doing just that.
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