You can call it the "Strange Bedfellows Coalition," but its name is the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign. The campaign is sending out teams of corporate types and do-gooders today to lobby lawmakers and staffers of the Senate and House budget committees in support of President Bush's budget for international affairs.
The campaign was formed about 10 years ago when the international affairs budget was under attack in Washington. "We wanted to show there was a domestic constituency," said George Ingram, president of the campaign and executive director of the Education Policy and Data Center.
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More Special Interests
At the center of attention of the coalition of 400 businesses and organizations is what is known as the "150 Account." This is the section of the federal budget that funds U.S. foreign affairs programs, such as promoting trade and development overseas, the Global AIDS Initiative, the Peace Corps, diplomatic and consular programs and education programs. These are programs, campaign leaders say, that will promote national security and economic progress, as well as humanitarian values.
The campaign's lobbying teams are supporting Bush's fiscal 2006 budget request of $33.6 billion for the international affairs programs. "We stay out of the specifics of whether you fund this or that," Ingram said.
Among the participants in today's lobbying effort are representatives of CARE, Bread for the World, Mercy Corps International, the National Audubon Society, the National Peace Corps Association, Caterpillar Inc., the Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin and Motorola Inc.
Bill Lane, vice president of the campaign and Washington director of governmental affairs for Caterpillar, said lawmakers "are befuddled" when they see corporate lobbyists working in tandem with nongovernmental organizations. But Lane and Barbara Larkin, vice president of policy for CARE, say the coalition's members work well together.
"We find we make each other's arguments," said Lane, noting that Caterpillar is arguing for U.S. funds to fight AIDS in Africa.
Larkin added, "The business community helps the NGOs argue that foreign assistance isn't a giveaway; that it's in our interest, as well."
Hutchinson Secures Law Firm Job
Asa Hutchinson, most recently under secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, immigrated out of the administration and landed at Venable this week, as chairman of the law firm's homeland security practice.
At DHS, Hutchinson was responsible for border and transportation security, overseeing the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He said he'll be doing legal and consulting work.
Hutchinson, a former Republican member of the House, will be splitting his time between Washington and Little Rock. There has been speculation that he wants to run for governor, but Hutchinson said that decision "remains for another day."
A Chief Lobbyist's Return
Patrick Griffin, former chief lobbyist for President Bill Clinton and more recently an adviser to then-Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), has returned to the lobby shop he founded more than 17 years ago with another Senate veteran aide, David Johnson.
The company, which he is rejoining as counsel, is now named Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland & Stewart.