December 27, 2016

Holidays Don't Slow Presidential Transition: Make a Mark on Policy Development Now

When President-elect Trump is sworn into office on January 20, 2017, he will bring a new administration and new priorities to the White House. This transition gives any company with business before the federal government an opportunity to put its issues, priorities and concerns in front of the new administration and Congress for the purposes of elevating its objectives. With one-party control in Washington D.C., 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year of activity much like 2009, which brought us the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the stimulus package, a viable Cap and Trade Bill, and financial services reform. Companies that take a concerted, proactive approach can ensure that their priorities will be represented in a federal government that is willing and able to accomplish a great deal.

All new administrations look for policy ideas to focus their efforts and provide guidance to the federal government. Some ideas are grand in scale, such as “getting the troops out of Iraq” or “national health care for everyone.” Other ideas are far more modest and do not get showcased in the inaugural address, such as “regulating coal fly ash” or “promoting the Alaska natural gas pipeline.” The grand ideas are selected by the president and are a reflection of the campaigns and the national atmosphere. The more modest ideas are the ones that new administrations try to identify early on, across every single federal department and agency—a process in which companies that assert themselves can have a voice.

There are a number of steps that companies can take to ensure that their concerns, issues and priorities become action items for a new administration, but it’s important to seize the opportunity now. The Trump transition team, in addition to working on personnel issues, is busy charting out the policy issues for each department and agency for Day 1, the first hundred days, and the first six months. These policy documents will be the blueprint that guides the Trump administration during the first several months.

Meanwhile, Congress will make its own policy priorities known through the confirmation process. Most of the Cabinet-level positions will have their confirmation hearings between January 3, when the new Congress convenes, and Inauguration Day on January 20. The confirmation process allows members of Congress to highlight policy issues through individual meetings, confirmation hearings and written questions submitted to the nominees. This process continues after Inauguration Day, with the confirmations of deputy secretaries, assistant administrators, and other lower-level appointees over the following months. Companies can take advantage of this process by getting their policy issues in front of both the Trump transition team and likeminded members of Congress in the coming days.

Some of the energy and environment issues that will most likely be addressed by the next Congress and the incoming administration include:

  • The Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan, including the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Accord, the Social Cost of Carbon policy, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 Endangerment Finding regarding greenhouse gases.
  • Domestic energy and natural resource development, including President-elect Trump’s 100-day plan for “American energy dominance” as a “strategic and foreign policy goal of the United States.”
  • The Obama Water Policy, including the Waters of the United States Rule and water infrastructure investment.
  • EPA’s continued implementation of the reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act, which was enacted in June 2016.
  • The respective roles of the federal government, including EPA, and the states in formulating and implementing environmental, energy and infrastructure policy.

Weighing in with transition officials and new appointees in the administration before they take office can make a tremendous difference in how policy issues are implemented. The regulated community can take advantage of the situation in Washington, D.C. to better position themselves for the future. FaegreBD Consulting is uniquely positioned to help advance clients’ policy goals in 2017.

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