Lobbying: Prepare for marathon, not sprint

Q. I have lobbied my legislator for years, yet no legislation has been passed. Why should I bother?
Monday, November 3, 2014

A. While I understand the sentiment, I have a different perspective. When you step back and look at the whole picture, we’re doing better than you might think. 

It is very difficult to get legislation introduced. Members of Congress on the key committees (ideally) must be educated and become an advocate for our issues. This takes a lot of consistent effort over the course of months and years.

Once legislation is introduced, the industry has to get as many cosponsors on the bill as possible. Typically, more than 200 cosponsors are needed in order to demonstrate to Congress that there is a problem that must be addressed. Then the bill must be passed or, more likel, attached to a bigger piece of legislation, before the end congressional session. If the bill hasn’t been enacted, it must be reintroduced and the process starts all over again.

So what are some of the obstacles to getting legislation passed? There are several. Legislation must be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This has been a challenge. Try as we might, we haven’t been able to get a score for our legislation and some members of Congress will not cosponsor legislation unless and until it is scored. 

Any legislation must be budget neutral. If it isn’t, we must find a way to pay for it. Getting legislation passed is a marathon, not a sprint. Educating your congressman occurs in small increments over a long period of time. The turtle ultimately beat the hare, not because he was faster, but because he steadily and consistently kept going.

Karyn Estrella, CAE, is the executive director of the Home Medical Equipment & Services Association of New England (HOMES). Reach her at karyn@homesne.org or 508-993-0700.