Friday, April 3, 2009
I have yet to be fully briefed on all of the meetings I did not personally attend this week (I was in about one-quarter of our meetings), but what I have seen myself and what I have heard so far from others is very positive. Here’s a brief, preliminary overview:
Tax: In the 110th Congress (the two years from the Democrat’s take-over of control of Congress through Obama’s election to the White House), there was a Republican bill on the Senate side and a Democratic bill on the House side. I am hoping that both of those will be re-introduced shortly. If they are, we will need to generate support from the other party on each side (i.e., Democratic support in the Senate and Republican support in the House). As I have said before, our issues do not generally fall victim to a partisan divide, so we can usually get support from someone on each side of the aisle in each house of Congress on any given issue. We seem to be making progress doing exactly that on tax this year – we have identified possible Democratic supporters in the Senate and possible Republican supporters in the House.
Voting: I am less familiar with voting than with tax because I have focused primarily on tax this year, but can report that legislation has been introduced in the 111th Congress to pick up where we left off in the 110th and possibly go a little further. These are not the same bills from the same sponsors as in the 110th, which is a good sign that people are taking a close look at what was proposed in 2007-08 and updating their respective bills accordingly.
Representation: Our objective on representation over the past few years has been to increase the size of the Americans Abroad Caucus. Since we do not have our own delegation of Senators and Representatives to represent the 5-7 million of us (as, say, we South Carolinians have two Senators and six Representatives to represent the 4 million of us), one mechanism that we have for ensuring representation of our interests in Congress is this caucus. The Americans Abroad Caucus is made up of members of Congress who generally support our issues and want to give us a more effective voice in Congress. We won’t know until weeks or months after OAW how successful we have been in recruiting new members, but the feedback has been positive and we hope to have made progress.
Part of the OAW delegation is still in Washington doing one last day of meetings on Friday. The rest of us have already left, as has much of Congress since a two-week recess began after the budget was passed last night. I have a one-year recess that started at the same time -- I left Washington last night and came down to South Carolina for a quick two-day visit with my parents and siblings before heading back to Paris. Then in a few weeks I will be moving to Saudi Arabia, where I will be practicing law in Riyadh. I hope to remain very active in AARO and continue participating in OAW each year.
I’m looking forward to OAW 2010!
Posted by Andy Coyne at 10:50 AM