Politicians are far from the only folks doing business on Capitol Hill. Behind the scenes, scores of lobbyists labor to protect and promote the interests of the disparate groups they represent. We wondered what it would be like to walk a day in the shoes of one such lobbyist--one who works on behalf of small business, naturally--so we turned to James Morrison, an independently contracted senior policy advisor with The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). What follows is a journey through Morrison's experiences on the day of April 23, 1997.
7:30 a.m. Morrison's day begins at his homebased office with a computer printout of small-business-related information pulled from an online clipping service.
8:20 a.m. After dropping his daughter off at school, Morrison catches the subway for the office. "As I'm riding into Washington, I scan all those clippings and generally at least one newspaper,' he says, noting his daily goal of reading three to four newspapers.
9 a.m. Morrison arrives at NASE offices. The first order of business is a final check of the testimony that NASE is giving to the House Small Business Committee later that day. The oral testimony pertains to The Home-Based Business Fairness Act.
10 a.m. Morrison attends a meeting of The Savings Coalition of America. "This particular coalition focuses on expanding eligibility for individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and improving the nation's savings rate,' he says. "There was a discussion about some of the IRA legislation pending on Capitol Hill.'
10:30 a.m. Time to attend the House Small Business Committee hearing. "These kinds of hearings also serve as an informal get-together of small-business advocates on Capitol Hill,' Morrison notes.
11:45 a.m. Morrison goes to a meeting of the Business Coalition for Affordable Health Care. "The meeting centered on medical savings accounts," he says, "[which is] something NASE supports.'
12:45 p.m. Morrison joins Rep. Marcy Kaptur
(D-OH) and a couple other folks for lunch. Lunch-time conversation revolves around an amendment Kaptur is introducing on the House floor that day seeking to exempt small businesses from having to publish patent applications before a patent is granted. After lunch, Morrison checks his messages and returns calls.
2 p.m. At this point, Morrison meets with the Senate Small Business Committee to discuss tax legislation.
2:45 p.m. Morrison next talks about patent bill amendments with an aide in the office of Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA). "It's far more typical to meet with an aide than to meet with a [congressional] member,' Morrison explains. "An aide can spend a lot more time [with you].'
3 p.m. Morrison convenes with fellow small-business advocates to observe the debate on the Kaptur amendment. "We gathered in an office to watch it on television," says Morrison. "From there we could make phone calls, and if we saw they needed [additional information about the amendment] on the [House] floor, we could write it up and send it down.'
5:45 p.m. After several hours of congressional debate, Kaptur's amendment passes by a margin of less than 30 votes. "That was a tremendous and unexpected victory for us,' says Morrison. "People were cheering and jumping up and down--it was quite a scene.'
8:30 p.m. Following some taking-care-of-business conversations at nearby congressional clubs, Morrison boards the subway for home. On the way, he reads papers and materials he didn't get to earlier.
"It was a long day--but not atypically long,' says Morrison. "It was kind of a fun day, too--capped by winning something we didn't think we were going to win. We do win sometimes.'
And now it's on to the next day, the next meeting, the next battle. . .