One Thing Is Clear: We Must Be on Our Toes!
Stephen A. Borg
I moved to Washington, D.C. in the middle of January 2001. I was a 23-year-old kid who had just accepted a low-level position in a member of Congress’ office from my home state of Illinois. I can still vividly remember like it was yesterday: The first sight of the monuments and Capitol Building lit up in the glory of the night. I drove into town for this adventure with other new young staffers. I was in awe, I was overwhelmed, I was confident, I learned something new every day, I served the citizens of my state, and I was having a blast!
I experienced some historical events during the ten and a half years I spent working on the Hill: from watching the attacks of 9/11 unfold on the television in front of me – and being yelled at to “Get the F&*$ out of the building NOW!” – to watching control of the Senate flip after Senator Jim Jeffords decide to unexpectedly switch parties to a Presidential election being determined by the Supreme Court after the country learned what a “hanging chad” was. I worked on pieces of legislation that I thought had no way of passing get signed into law and I saw pieces of legislation that I thought were slam dunks sitting idly on the sidelines and dying.
I have now spent ten years on the other side of the table as a lobbyist and seen many new, unexpected circumstances arise in Washington, D.C. These twenty years have taught me to expect the unexpected, prepare for any circumstance, and be on my toes to be able to pivot to whatever this town throws my way quickly. As the Mason Contractors Association of America’s lobbyist for the past ten years, we have built many solid and bipartisan relationships on Capitol Hill. I am now preparing myself and the MCAA for a whirlwind of fast-moving issues that we must quickly respond to, and they are sometimes contradictory. Take, for instance, the following scenarios we have seen so far in just the two short months since the Biden Administration has taken over:
- We have been told and seen steps that OSHA will take a much more aggressive enforcement stance. President Biden, however, nominated a former union boss as his Secretary of Labor: the consensus-building mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. Will he work with businesses like he did as Mayor?
- We have been told and seen steps taken by the Biden Administration to expect an emergency DOL rule on business mandates in response to the COVID pandemic by March 15, and yet that day has come and gone and we have not seen a rule. Will it die or will they pivot and reveal a much broader, permanent rule?
- We have seen the Biden Administration make calls for trillions of dollars in infrastructure investments, a potential boon to the construction industry, and many union jobs. Still, we have also seen major calls for wide-ranging climate-related action, many of which would destroy those same industries and union jobs.
- We have seen the Biden Administration call for and sign into law a COVID response plan that had provisions Biden led the charge against some years earlier.
Add all that to the fact that we have the oldest sworn-in President in our history who has wanted to be President for decades, a Democratic Speaker of the House who has pledged this is her last two years in charge, and a new Senate Majority Leader who is trying to balance keeping his slim, very politically diverse majority with keeping his seat in the Senate as well as the policies we see in the coming months, which will be diverse, far-reaching, and, in my opinion, “legacy building.” While I will constantly be on my toes, ready to pivot as a result of the unknown battles ahead of us, I do know that labor policy will be sure to play a significant role in Washington, D.C., over the next few years before the 2022 midterm elections. We will continue to advocate and fight for you, our Members, with whatever lies ahead of us.