Trump win sets off industry scramble

Trump win sets off industry scramble
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Business groups are already lining up to work with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE.

Powerful lobbying groups all across Washington are advertising their willingness to work on top priorities such as trade, infrastructure, tax reform and regulatory reform.


Organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Financial Services Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are eager to capitalize on GOP control of the White House and Congress, which could make many of their policy dreams reality.

Many groups are scrambling to draw up their lobbying wish lists, after having prepared agendas more suitable to a Democratic Senate and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE White House.

“Up until last night, most companies and their associations were figuring out how to be on defense over the next four years” said one Republican corporate executive who asked for anonymity in order to speak freely. “That shifted all of the sudden and went to being on offense.”

This is only the second time since 1929 that Republicans will control Congress and the White House. The last time was 2005 to 2007, during President George W. Bush’s final term.

Corporations and industry groups are thinking about “what do you have to do within agencies to slow down on aggressive tactics they’re taking, whereas yesterday, your mindset was different,” the executive said. “You have to reframe how you’re thinking about going forward.”

With Trump’s surprise win, advocates have effectively been given carte blanche to weaken or repeal the Affordable Care Act, retool the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and stem the tide of regulations they say have stanched growth under President Obama.

Corporate America was slow to embrace Trump, with many major players choosing to sit out the Republican National Convention this summer.

Public controversy around some of Trump’s rhetoric led risk-averse companies to keep their distance.

Now that Trump has won the White House, corporate interests are throwing caution to the wind.

Once the election was called for Trump, more than 1,100 manufacturing and business leaders sent a letter to the president-elect pledging to work together with a new administration “to express our commitment in reuniting our country and our people after this particularly difficult election.” 

Business Roundtable (BRT) President John Engler said business leaders are now eyeing action on tax reform and regulations, two issues that Trump has said he wants to tackle. 

“I think you look to start where you got common ground and, maybe if not consensus, at least a general understanding of the direction,” Engler told The Hill on Wednesday. 

“I think that the work that’s been done by Speaker [Paul] Ryan [R-Wis.] on the House agenda, a number of those aspects are going to be pretty acceptable to the Trump administration when that gets stood up,” he said. 

Groups also see an ally in Trump, a real estate developer and businessman who is sensitive to their concerns.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) has been ramping up for the election aftermath over the last six months, working to establish a Congressional Franchise Caucus to better help lawmakers understand its business model, in addition to adopting a more aggressive public affairs and grassroots lobbying strategy. 

Trump “understands what our business model does,” said Matt Haller, the IFA’s senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. “We have a number of members that have a personal relationship with Trump and his family that we have already leveraged.”

The IFA, like other groups, have been in touch with Trump’s transition team, Haller said.

“In this election, voters clearly rejected candidates who pledged to continue governing by regulatory fiat or impose policies that would destroy jobs and crush small businesses, which are the engine of our economy,” said Robert Cresanti, the group’s president and CEO. 

Any changeover in administration means new opportunities and big business for K Street firms and industry groups, but Trump’s “outsider” quality within the Beltway has piqued additional interest from clients.

“With a new president and a new Congress, there will be more money in the system and more investment in Washington,” said Marc Lampkin, the leader of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Washington office who helped raise money for Trump.

“There is pent-up interest in moving substantive policy things: healthcare, tax reform, immigration, infrastructure, in addition to reviewing Obama administration executive orders and rules,” said Lampkin, a former aide to former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Ohio).

“Trump, obviously an unknown quantity ... intensifies that because every head of [government relations] is trying to figure out how to solve their Trump riddle: who and how and what. And all of that is going on in the midst of all these issues going forward,” he added. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said his organization is prepared to work with the Trump administration to grow the economy.

“Now, it’s time to turn the page and refocus the country’s attention on the many substantive domestic and international challenges facing us,” Donohue said in a statement.

Many business groups had hoped that Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would move through Congress after the election, but there appears to be virtually no chance of that happening, with Trump firmly against the agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said the deal would not be considered in the lame-duck session of Congress.

Still, business groups like BRT and the NAM said they are going to take one last run at moving the deal across Capitol Hill before Obama leaves office, despite the low odds of success.

With Trump’s victory, Engler said he is “not encouraged” that the TPP will pass during the lame-duck.

While there is much common ground between Trump’s political agenda and the NAM’s priorities, there remains a divergence, said Timmons, particularly on trade.

Trump has said he would like to pull the United States out of the TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a move that business groups argue would severely stunt the global competitiveness of U.S. companies.

The president-elect also took on the “special interests” during the campaign, releasing an ethics reform plan that would tighten restrictions on lobbyists.

Advocates say they aren’t worried about how Trump’s campaign promises will translate to his administration.

“There's a difference between campaigning and governing,” Timmons said. “Now comes the hard work, delivering real results for the American people.”