The annual appropriations process provides opportunities for Congress to fund the programs and activities of the federal government. Navigating through this complex process requires a systematic approach based on knowledge of the opportunities and the players involved.
We understand and anticipate the appropriations process at every stage. We begin by advocating for clients as the Administration’s budget requests are formulated. We then track and analyze the budget requests as they are submitted to Congress, through the various phases of congressional consideration, and finally to agency implementation. Our success is based on our thorough knowledge of each step of the budget process, with a close eye to all budget-related political developments that could impact our clients’ interests. We have successfully designed and implemented strategies to win federal funds for hundreds of new programs, to keep controversial programs funded, to increase funding for client priority programs, and, when called for, to initiate funding for programs not requested in the Administration budget.
Blank Rome has a long track record of success in assisting clients in obtaining earmarks in the annual appropriations process. However, in recent years, the practice of congressional “earmarking” has diminished significantly and, in the current year, has vanished. We do not anticipate a return to the earmarking practices that were so commonplace in the 90s and the first decade of this century. This does not mean Congress will have no influence over the allocation of funds from domestic programs. Through “soft earmarks” Congress will still be able to provide funding in the direction of priority projects. Congress will also have the opportunity to be advocates within the administration for grant requests from constituents. Thus it may also become increasingly important to focus on funding opportunities that are not earmarks but which flow from the appropriations and authorizations processes such as federal grant and loan programs, stimulus projects, and tax credits. Blank Rome has extensive experience with innovative federal funding strategies such as New Market Tax Credits or public finance techniques to help stimulate new private capital investment that can facilitate real economic growth and community development.
Our team has been around the track enough times to have had experience working in the era when earmarks were few and far between. We understand how appropriations bill language that does not rise to the level of a specific earmark can still be effective in directing funds to the intended place, especially when productive ground work has been done with the federal agencies running the programs that ultimately distribute the funds. The same thing can be accomplished on authorizing legislation. Our long history working with Members and staff of the key committees on Capitol Hill allows us to ensure our clients’ projects receive fair consideration in the process.
Our professionals have assisted clients in securing billions of dollars in federal funds. Our clients include universities, states, municipalities, Native American tribes and groups, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, corporations, transportation and infrastructure interests, and other entities. In addition to helping our clients obtain funding for important projects, we often assist them in using the appropriations process to accomplish other legislative or policy goals, such as discouraging a federal agency from taking unwanted regulatory action.
In addition, each year Congress works on major authorization legislation that sets budgets, goals, policies, laws, and regulations across a wide spectrum of federal activity. We help clients effectively participate in every aspect of the authorization process.
We are proud of our solid bipartisan ties on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch. Over the years, we have developed strong relationships with key Members of Congress, congressional staff and senior Administration officials. Many of our professionals are veterans of congressional committee staffs or federal offices, and thus know the budget process from both sides, giving them a depth of perspective of both the appropriations and authorizations process that greatly benefits our clients.