The Interest Group Connection: Electioneering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington

By Paul S. Herrnson; Ronald G. Shaiko et al. | Go to book overview

14
Lobbying for the President: Influencing Congress from the White House

Gary J. Andres

One of our darkest days as George Bush's Legislative Affairs team occurred in the fall of 1990 when we were informed during a GOP Leadership meeting on Capitol Hill that the President had just agreed to raise taxes. In addition to facing an angry mob of Republican Members, having to explain why we didn't know about the decision ahead of time only added insudt to injury. For some reason, as I sat in that chaos filled room the late Bryce Harlow's (legislative affairs advisor to Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon) description of Congressional Affairs as an "ambulatory bridge across a constitutional divide" crossed my mind. In this case, however, the bridge had just blown up!

-- Bush White House aide

MANAGING White House relations with Congress is a lot like landing a Boeing 747. Doing it right is routine, boring, and expected--not a feat that generates plaudits or praise. Yet doing it wrong can produce lots of sparks and heat, often leading to disastrous consequences for the president and his agenda. This chapter draws on my experience in the congressional relations operation of President George Bush, an operation that drew praise as well as criticism for the manner in which it worked with the Congress. It is my hope that at least two distinct audiences will learn from this chapter. First, I hope to add to the existing scholarly literature on how to structure,

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