Friday, December 19, 2014

On Your Mark, Get Ready....

With the beginning of the new Congress in January 2015, controlled by the Republicans, there is no clear champion of disability rights. If we are smart, we need to see this as an opportunity rather than a deficit. We should build bipartisan pairs of champions on every committee that affects people with disabilities. This window of opportunity will not last long and we must be prepared to offer potential candidates of these bipartisan pairs support for and concrete ideas that improve lives of people with disabilities and strengthen our position as a strong, aggressive advocate for disability rights internationally.

In the Wall Street Journal today Kim Strassel has written an interesting opinion piece, "A GOP Strategy Begins to Emerge" ( Strassel gives several examples of what the GOP has learned over the last six years, broadly speaking, what works and what doesn't work. One interesting tidbit was that Democrats joined Republicans this year "to expand access to charter schools, expedite natural gas exports, and ban taxes on the Internet." Another tidbit is that many Democrats, like Republicans, oppose the medical device tax. And a final one, Republicans realize they have a greater chance of getting substantive changes they want, by sticking such things in spending bills.

One of the GOP's big motivators over the next two years is/will be to show us it knows how to get things done. In such a climate, the GOP will be interested in bipartisan collaboration, meaningful, and yes, clever, negotiation, and new coalition building. We should spend the holiday season reading, thinking, and deciding how to put ourselves on the agenda early before all the "opportunity space" is taken in the new Congress.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. When available, learn who the Republican chairmen and Democrat ranking members on committees in the House of Representatives and Senate are.

2.  Discuss and select issues on which you would send them a message.

3.  Be informed about what is coming up on the calendars in the House and Senate.

4.  Share your interests/messages with others to build coalitions around priorities.

Have a great holiday season, and rest up for 2015. It is going to be an exciting year for us!

Thank you.
Common Grounder