Dear ASA Member:
A news headline I read last month made me think a lot about the obstacles ASA members face to gaining legislators’ support for subcontractor-friendly legislation, and what can be done to overcome those obstacles.
A headline announced that “Bipartisan bills hit a brick wall in election-year gridlock.” The accompanying story explained that Congress was failing to advance legislation that has enough votes to pass and broad bipartisan support. Even bills that are widely seen as beneficial, the story matter-of-factly noted, “have hit a legislative brick wall.” I observed that legislative gridlock is commonplace in the states too, where bills that should pass don’t, especially in election years.
There are two fundamentally different reactions to legislative gridlock: accept inaction, or be part of a solution. The latter approach is better for subcontractors. We should insist that legislators do their job and move beyond gridlock.
The usual objection to this insistence is that gridlock makes talking to legislators about legislation a futile gesture. I’m familiar with that feeling of discouragement, as a “veteran” activist who has worked on legislation, only to see it delayed for the wrong reason, or no apparent reason at all. What motivates me to continue, however, is the importance of the issues to our businesses. In addition, there’s opportunity for progress, even when gridlock has overtaken the legislative process. In fact, on the federal level, there may be even more opportunity now than when legislators are working furiously to produce legislation!
Think about it. Most members of Congress are not in Washington but are in their district offices this week. All House members and one-third of senators are up for election this fall. They want to be seen favorably by their constituents, i.e., you and me. Campaign season is not yet in full swing, so if you visit, you stand a better chance of a face-to-face meeting.
This is the perfect time to visit your members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor ASA-supported legislation to end illusory payment assurances (H.R. 3534), and require bid-listing (H.R. 1778), on federal projects. Right now, your voice won’t be “drowned out” by the tidal wave of messages that inundates Congress when it isn’t caught in gridlock. There’s only one set of voices that the politicians are certain not to hear: the voices of those who choose not to speak. Visit the “Advocacy and Contracts” page of ASA’s Web site (www.asaonline.com) to obtain contact information for your elected officials and suggestions for legislation to discuss during your visits.
If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at email@example.com.
Very truly yours,
ASA President, 2011-12