Congressional Subcommittee Strategies: Key in 2019

//Congressional Subcommittee Strategies: Key in 2019

Congressional Subcommittee Strategies: Key in 2019

All too often in transitions from one Congress to the next, media “pundits” and others who follow these developments ignore details and changes impacting Congressional Subcommittees, where much of the future “work” for the 116th Congress (2019-2020) will be done. Have you factored into your government relations plans for 2019 Congressional subcommittee “change challenges?”

The task is daunting—there are 97 US House and 89 US Senate Subcommittees contained in 21 full Committees for each body, and to make matters even more interesting, the most recent statistics indicate 1,131 US House and 1,262 US Senate Committee staffs with a grand total of almost 2,400 persons not counting the personal legislative directors and top staffs of Members which at a minimum would be 535 (435 House and 100 Senate) times two for over 1,000 additional key personnel. Not all of these staffers are critical to policy or legislative priorities, but the statistics point to a growing number of Subcommittees, staffs and areas of jurisdiction that must be considered in any strategy for success.

The primary process that most of us are familiar with is the selection by Congressional leadership and their party members of Committee chairs each Congress. In the last Congressional transition (114th to 115th) the Majority thru the Speaker(Rep.Ryan (R-WI) announced all Committee Chairs on December 1st,2016 and the Minority Leader (Rep.Pelosi, D-CA) on January 11,2017. These winter month decisions (usually finalized by the beginning of February, in time for the submission of the Federal budget from the President for FY2020) have a great impact on selection of Subcommittee chairs as these are decisions involving not just a Committee Chair, by the leaders of each respective parties and under rules for consideration and process going forward.

Why are Subcommittees so important for planning purposes?

In most of the Committee structure, legislation is referred after introduction, and hearing proposed at the Subcommittee level. They are grouped by subject categories and members and staff become expert at issues—many of these subcommittees make decisions on funding or authorizing in the very programs impacting all who seek support within the Congress for their bill, or appropriations line item. No matter if it is a livestock issue, or aviation(airport)project, the applicable subcommittee is the place to focus.

What is the planning that would go into targeting subcommittees?

Key to plan for influencing a new chair of a subcommittee would be their staff director and professional staffs, usually in place by the beginning of February,if not before. Announcements on major program or issue areas for a new subcommittee to change in subcommittee leadership is also critical. Review the calendar of the last Congress for the subcommittee to determine hearings, dates for markup of key bills and combine this with District work periods or “recess dates” for 2019 in the official Congressional schedule. “Go early and make a good, succinct case” and follow through with Subcommittee staffs throughout 2019.

What are some of the certain changes in Subcommittees for 2019?

While the following is not a full listing, you need to review in detail with assistance the changes that Congressional subcommittees bring to your programs. Some (regardless of the election outcomes) will be as follows: US House, Aviation, Coast Guard and Maritime, Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Managements, Health, Communications and Technology, Border and Maritime Security, Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and in the US Senate, Privacy, Technology and the Law, Africa and Global Health Policy, Water and Power, and, of course, there will be numerous changes based on “movement” by leaders from one subcommittee to another or committee depending on their goals.

A review of all of the 97 plus 89 Subcommittees in the last (115th) Congress indicate that most all of the Chairs were announced throughout the month of January, very few spilling over to subsequent months (such as the House Rules Subcommittees February 2, or the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittees, March 3). Therefore, in the details of the process relating to Subcommittees the following action items are critical:

  • Know the jurisdiction on issues of all Congressional subcommittees involved in your objectives—there is overlap and in some cases one would not ordinarily know where the program falls;
  • Monitor closely the Committee Chair and Top staff selections,especially in competitions for the Chair position and know the day-by-day process as to party, leadership and member requests (and approvals) of subcommittee chairs;
  • Watch for leadership announcements(usually Committee Chairs)on members who have been selected to serve on all Subcommittees which usually follow Subcommittee chair selections(these are targets for policy and legislative action during the Session)

Are you preparing for Congressional Subcommittee change in 2019 that might prove critical to you objectives for this 116th Congress? The McKeon Group has been preparing and is ready to assist in these very challenging times in a very divided Congress.

By |2018-10-31T02:51:32+00:00October 31st, 2018|Congress|Comments Off on Congressional Subcommittee Strategies: Key in 2019

About the Author:

John Chwat joins The McKeon Group as Senior Vice President, bringing over 47 years of Congressional experience to the firm’s clients. A native Washingtonian, John began his distinguished career on Capitol Hill in 1971, and has extensive experience at both the federal and state level representing a multi-client base of corporations, trade and professional associations, industry coalitions, foundations, museums and foreign clients. John has a vast knowledge of the inner workings of Congress and their corresponding processes, having served both Democrats and Republicans as a “Hill Professional”. John has served in the capacity of Chief of Staff to three Members of the US House of Representatives who served on the House Judiciary Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and the House Appropriations Committee. John also served as a Legislative Assistant to a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Banking Committees, and as a staff member to the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. Continuing his service to the US Congress, he served as a national defense and foreign policy analyst for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress providing key research and reports to Committees and Members. He was a senior specialist in congressional relations for the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) and also served in the Congressional Relations Office of the United States Department of Agriculture. During his career, John has championed government relations projects for Fortune 100 companies, multi-billion dollar industries in trade associations with membership ranging from 700,000 to 2,000,000 and companies seeking to enter the federal marketplace. John has also secured millions of dollars for military museums, cultural sites around the world and secured public art exhibitions from Yellowstone National Park to the US State Department. John has expertise in the appropriations and legislative process including special achievements in weather policy, agriculture, federal procurement and surplus property. As well as many other private sector initiatives resulting in passage of Public Laws. A graduate of Georgetown University with a Master’s Degree in American Government, John holds a Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law and a Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from Long Island University. He has taught courses on lobbying the legislative process and American government at George Mason University, Trinity College, Northern Virginia Community College and The Washington Center. Mr. Chwat brings four decades of knowledge of the Congressional process and teaches lobbying techniques and government-relations strategies to industry and trade association conventions, state and national groups, and corporate board of directors’ meetings. He has served on the Government Relations Council of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and as Chairman of ASAE’s “Advanced Institute on Government Relations.” John served on the faculty of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Organization Management. He is a past president of the House Chiefs of Staff Alumni Association (representing former Chiefs of Staff to Members of Congress). John is also a member of the Capitol Hill Club and serves as president of The American Friends of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Inc. Contact Info: johnchwat@mckeongrp.com
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