Nobody gets everything they want in a negotiation. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be a negotiation. Compromise is a concept we seem to have lost touch with.
Legislating is fundamentally about compromise—it always has been. We can see this as we look back to the roots of our Republic, tracing back to ancient Rome, roughly around 500 B.C. We continue to watch a Congress divided by ideology and chamber that has failed to find a path to compromise on a stimulus bill.
The chorus of delay has many familiar lines:
- “The deficit has sky-rocketed, and this can’t continue.”
- “The prior stimulus funds have been mismanaged and went to the wrong hands.”
- “Let’s wait for election results to see the direction the country votes.”
- “What does defense have to do with COVID response.”
- “DoD spent COVID funds on the industry.”
- “The economy is strong. Best market performance. GDP growth is strong.”
What Will it Take To Compromise?
We don’t yet have the clarity from elections, Presidential and Congressional, to offer a clear path of what the country wants. This will come with time. I think I speak for everyone when I say we don’t want Congress to do nothing.
Some things that should happen quickly:
- Get stimulus passed. Find the compromise and stop holding out for the all or nothing position. Large bills always have side effects that aren’t anticipated—there are ways to work through these after the bill is passed. If not $3 trillion or $2 trillion, maybe start with something more targeted in the billions? Perhaps we need multiple smaller targeted bills.
- Get the appropriations bills moving. The Senate has yet to pass a single FY21 appropriations bill on the Senate floor. Enough. The uncertainty a continuing resolution generates within program offices across government is far more costly than the small gains at stake in final negotiation. We have seen this movie before in the defense industry. Stopping, starting, and rescheduling programs is exceptionally costly—on the order of billions of dollars.
- Get the policy bills cleared. Congress is famous for punting decisions until the political winds feel “just right.” This is a mistake. At a minimum, a defense policy bill sends a strong message of stability throughout the military and our allies.
This is not a partisan rant; this is a fundamental call. Compromise is not failure; it’s part of the job. Let’s move into 2021 with a fresh perspective.
I hope you’ll share this with professional colleagues.
I am pleased to have been recognized by my peers at the National Institute For Lobbying & Ethics as a “2020 Top Lobbyist.” Congratulations to all fellow awardees!
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