Last week, BakerHostetler hosted more than 300 clients for its two-day annual legislative seminar that featured an impressive lineup of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who shared policy insights and political predictions.
The 29th Annual Legislative Seminar has become a premier policy showcase in Washington, D.C., allowing clients to listen and interact firsthand with key House members and senators. Led by federal policy team leader Mike Ferguson, the seminar featured a dozen senior lawmakers who shared a range of policy insights and perspectives.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Congress would examine President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to tackle prescription drug prices. Ryan said he anticipated House action on legislation that would speed access to generic drugs.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he feared the multiple investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign and the Trump White House could soon lead to a constitutional crisis. Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) predicted that Congress would once again have difficulty separately approving the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government. Blunt is chairman of the subcommittee that approves funding for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, discussed cryptocurrencies and digital assets. He said it would be wrong for the Securities and Exchange Commission to establish regulatory frameworks that don’t distinguish between equity tokens and utility tokens, or to assume that only bad actors operate in the space. Adverse regulations in this space could jeopardize innovation and investment in the United States, he said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) discussed the favorable political climate for Democrats, and retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) talked about the challenges of navigating intra-Republican Party politics since Trump’s election.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) discussed telecommunications policy, including 5G deployment, and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) talked about his role as the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said the ability to work across the political aisle and forge bipartisan consensus would be the key to unlocking congressional gridlock. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) called on the Trump White House to leverage upcoming trade negotiations to stop other nations from “free riding” on U.S. pharmaceutical innovations. He said foreign government price controls, market access barriers and theft of intellectual property undermined U.S. companies and placed an unfair burden on American patients.
Attendees also heard from political analyst Jim Ellis, who said Democrats’ path to winning the House majority was difficult, notwithstanding Trump’s low job approval numbers. Ellis provides political analysis to a series of Fortune 500 companies to help guide their political action committee contributions.
The evening before the seminar, BakerHostetler hosted firm clients for dinner at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, where President Harry Truman in 1949 signed the treaty creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) was the dinner speaker and gave an overview of his panel’s work on the opioid crisis, health care legislation, telecommunications, self-driving vehicles and energy policy.