Lobbyists are in the spotlight after The New York Times' prominent story this morning that focused on the "handful of relatively small-bore line items affecting particular industries" which were affected "aggressive lobbying behind the scenes" while the public focused on more obviously partisan fights over abortion funding. The Times points out that G.E. was also on the scene in the final days, looking to "revive financing for an alternate engine for a costly jet fighter project." That campaign was "ultimately unsuccessful."
So this got us intrigued. What private little fights might have snuck into the budget proposal? Just scanning around the web today, we found a few more.
"Free-choice" Health Insurance Vouchers
This was the main subject of the Times story today. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden got told Friday night that free-choice vouchers, a plan passed months ago "that would have allowed some 300,000 workers to pick their own insurance coverage through employer-financed vouchers." A rare coalition of business and labor interests were not in favor and out the program went. Its relationship to the budget fight? Not much.
Taking Wolves Off the 'Endangered' List
You had to click to a different article to find this one, which the Times, as well as other papers, also covered. Wolves in Montana and Idaho are "to be taken off the endangered species list and managed instead by state wildlife agencies, which is in direct opposition to a federal judge's recent decision forbidding the Interior Department to take such an action." Naturally, environmentalists are enraged that Congress is stepping in like this. Why is it happening? Well, the move is apparently a "tiny item in budgetary terms," but one that "has great political resonance among the ranchers and hunters of Montana."
No Inventory of Federal Lands
What on earth is the objection to this? Easy: if federal lands are inventoried for their "wilderness characteristics," explains The Wall Street Journal, oil companies might get restrictions on where they could drill. Mining companies might, too, and cordoning off land could even affect ranchers.
Screwing Over Senator Lindsey Graham?
It's not clear if this one is about lobbying or someone just trying to stick it to Graham for no apparent reason. As we pointed out earlier today, though, and as The Hill reports, though, that the South Carolinan Republican "has vowed to bring the Senate to a standstill unless congressional leaders agree to allocate $40,000 for a federal study on deepening the Port of Charleston." Apparently he wasn't pleased when it was excluded in the deal last week, given the port's integrality to the state's economy .
If you're curious about what other cuts you missed, head on over to look at this chart of the changes in the funding of various programs, which was updated today. And if you spot more examples of sneaky lobbyist victories, let us know.