Newspaper article Roll Call

Lobbyists Eager for Short-Term Fiscal Deal ; K Street Prepares for Lame-Duck Congress

Newspaper article Roll Call

Lobbyists Eager for Short-Term Fiscal Deal ; K Street Prepares for Lame-Duck Congress

Article excerpt

K Street's calls for a legislative Band-Aid to carry clients past the "fiscal cliff" and into the next Congress became increasingly desperate Wednesday.

Indeed, the day after the elections provided little promise of how, or whether, the lame-duck Congress would manage to compromise on a plan to avert the impending budgetary time bomb.

"The stakes over the fiscal cliff discussion just got significantly higher," said David French, chief lobbyist at the National Retail Federation. "If Washington was looking to guidance from the voters on the path ahead, voters weren't exactly clear."

As the nation approaches its debt ceiling yet again, lawmakers have less than 20 legislative days to decide what to do about the simultaneous expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and the Social Security payroll tax holiday, as well as the first round of sequestration cuts.

Every interest group has a stake.

Business advocates argue that the tax provisions set to expire on Dec. 31 will stifle the still sputtering economy. Defense lobbyists fear that the longer the Pentagon budget remains up in the air, the harder it will be for contractors to recover. And unions and other liberal groups worry that emboldened Senate Democrats may agree to cuts in Medicare as part of a last-minute compromise.

Add to that pleas from lobbyists representing municipalities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy that are desperate for federal funds to speed disaster relief efforts.

"Folks in the business community believe it's time to unite our country because America's competitiveness is at stake," Jay Timmons, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said on a conference call Wednesday. "I don't think there's anything more urgent than dealing with our fiscal crisis."

For the past year, defense giants and, to a lesser degree, technology firms, have begged lawmakers to avoid billions of dollars in cuts associated with sequestration. …

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