Wednesday, February 07, 2001

The "ABCs" of Lobbying

80-20 is ready to mount a frontal assault on the glass ceiling above you & your children.  80-20 has worked long and hard, gathering political capital bit by bit, just for this moment!

80-20'll begin with a lobbying effort to secure Congressional hearings on the huge amount of statistical evidence documenting the existence of glass ceiling above APAs.  To help this lobbying effort succeed, most of us may want to acquire some basic knowledge about lobbying.  

Hopefully, you may agree that, ultimately, our community's political clout depends on our collective political maturity. 

At the risk of boring some of you, here are the "ABCs" of lobbying for an issue, as opposed to, say, lobbying to get someone confirmed or get a treaty passed.

There are 3 basic ways that Congress may be asked to support an issue:

  • to pass a bill favoring the issue, 

  • to pass a resolution favoring the issue, and 

  • to open congressional hearings by relevant committees that end the hearings with favorable reports.  

(1) Of the three, passing a bill is the hardest.  Once a bill passes both Houses and is signed by the president, it becomes a law.  The violation of a law requires a penalty.  Hence, 99% of the bills are required to contain languages specifying appropriate punishment, should the law be violated.

(2) Passing a resolution is the easiest.  There are many forms of resolutions - House Resolution, Senate Resolution, Concurrent Resolution, and Joint Resolution.  Although a resolution needs to pass the House or the Senate or both, resolutions are nothing but lip service.  A resolution, even after passage, could be violated by any person at will, without penalty.  Resolutions are mostly used by politicians to please constituents "on the cheap." 

A Joint Resolution passed by unanimous consent and signed by the President will have the temporary effect of law for the duration of the Congressional session.  It's used for passing budgets.

(3) To schedule Congressional hearings by relevant committees is the middle choice.  A committee chair may call a public hearing on a relevant matter.  The committee may then issue a report on that subject.  The matter could end there, without being turned into a bill.  If ample publicity is achieved during the hearings and if the report is very favorable to a given issue, it could be very effective.  For example, if a committee report suggests to a federal agency that certain results seem desirable, and if no progress is made by next year's budget hearing for that agency before the same committee, there could be budgetary repercussions for that agency.  

During hearings, at least one congressional member on the committee must be present.  A hearing lasting several days will cost members much time and is therefore a serious investment by the committee.  In contrast, a resolution may be passed by both the House and the Senate in a few seconds without any congressional member paying any attention.  

Keep tuned to 80-20's effort on your behalf and please, if you are good in writing Chinese articles, volunteer to join 80-20's letters-to-the-editors team by e-mailing S.B. Woo and saying "Count Me In."

Thank you.

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80-20 is a national nonpartisan Political Action Committee dedicated to work for equality and justice for all Asian Americans.  For more details, visit