Word of the Day: 'Bipartisan'

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, November 9, 2006

As former House member Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.), now head of the government practice at Holland & Knight , put it, some of his fellow Democratic lobbyists have a nice "jump to their step" today after the Democratic takeover of the House.

But then, he said, everyone must get down to the fact that "it's a bipartisan process largely."

No one seems to be echoing the bipartisan-lobbying mantra more than the business community, which, while not monolithically Republican, tended to support more Republicans than Democrats, not leaving it with such great credentials with the new Democratic leadership in the House.

Indeed, today, Harold McGraw III , chairman of the Business Roundtable and chief executive of McGraw-Hill Cos., is talking to the Wharton School of Business on "The Real World Is Neither Red Nor Blue" and laying out the group's agenda for Congress.

BRT is also taking out newspaper ads today on the theme, one of which is a photo of former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton with the line: "If they can put aside their differences after an election, so can you."

John Castellani , president of BRT, said the group of CEOs is not partisan and notes that officials recently met with members of the "Blue Dog" Democrats, a group of conservative party members, over breakfast.

Bill Miller , political director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that "yesterday was a down day for the business community," but he added that the chamber has supported some Democrats, particularly Rep. Melissa L. Bean (Ill.), and Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.).

He also noted that many of the new Democrats have a "Blue Dog" profile, or are at least moderates, and said the chamber is eager to work with the Democratic leadership. "Our door is open, and we hope their door is open as well," Miller said.

Todd Stottlemyer , chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement after the elections that such small-business issues as affordable health care, a complex tax code and burdensome regulation are not partisan issues.

"We're committed to doing our part to work with all lawmakers to find real solutions for America's job creators. NFIB supported pro-small-business candidates in both parties, and small-business owners will now look to the Congress to get the job done," he said.

NFIB, which was active in the campaigns, endorsed 268 candidates for the House and Senate, mostly incumbents -- overwhelmingly Republicans. NFIB spokesman Michael J. Donohue said the group endorsed 12 Democrats.

The new leadership and lawmakers will also provide "new opportunities," according to James Greenwood , head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization -- BIO -- and a former GOP House member from Pennsylvania. Greenwood said that BIO has emphasized a bipartisan lobbying operation. "If we can explain the science and the economics, reason will prevail," he said.

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