By S-3 Public Affairs

Axios’ Steve LeVine reports on a mobile payment platform that has seen incredible growth in the United States in recent years. “Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce rival to Amazon, is making its first big push into the American market with a substantial play by its affiliate, Alipay. It’s built around China’s two-week lunar new year celebration, which has brought thousands of Chinese tourists to the United States, most of whom prefer to spend at retailers that accept a mobile wallet. At home, some 520 million Chinese retail shoppers use Alipay. But last year they also took 135 million journeys abroad, including to Europe and the U.S. Given their payment preferences, shopping has been a stumbling block. But now, Alipay has payment agreements with some 170,000 North America retail locations, reports Fung Global Retail Tech’s Deborah Weinswig.”



The Wall Street Journal reports on how media outlets are transferring data intelligence to the business side of their operations. “Publishers are increasingly building data science tools to boost web traffic and lure subscribers. Now, the New York Times is giving those tools to marketers to help drum up new business. The newspaper announced on Thursday the launch of a new team focused on adapting tools from groups specializing in data science, product and design, technology, and advertising. … The Times has already invested in tools to help understand its subscribers and their needs, which can be deployed for marketers. The new team will be able to work with T Brand Studio to help bring in more advertising clients and build more tailored branded content offerings. Other publishers have turned their capacities for data crunching into a business opportunity. In June, Bloomberg hired Havas Creative Group Chief Executive Andrew Benett, who has been using the company’s audience data in consultation with brands. The Washington Post adapted ‘Post Pulse,’ a tool for tracking the company’s trending stories, for clients including Sprint, BMW and Chevy.”


President Trump is expected to hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss biofuels policy, with participants including Senators Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, and Joni Ernst, as well as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and others. Reuters reports“The meeting comes as the oil industry and corn lobby – powerful forces in Washington – clash over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a decade-old regulation that requires refiners to cover the cost of mixing biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel. Trump’s engagement reflects the high political stakes of protecting jobs in a key electoral state. Oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which employs more than a thousand people in Philadelphia, declared bankruptcy last month and blamed the regulation for its demise.”


Both the House and Senate return this week as negotiations on an omnibus spending package and an immigration bill continue. The House will vote on a financial services bill as well as a sex trafficking bill. The Senate on Monday will have a cloture vote on the nominations of Elizabeth Branch (to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit), Russell Vought (to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget), and four district court nominees.

NOTE: The House and Senate are in session this week but the House has canceled votes on Wednesday and Thursday for the late Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Monday (February 26): House Rules Committee meeting to consider the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act, and a measure to place requirements on operational risk capital requirements for banking organizations; House Intelligence Committee business meeting on the adoption of the Committee’s FY2019 budget views and estimates letter; House Small Business Committee field hearing on closing the skills gap in workforce development;

Tuesday (February 27): House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the FY2019 foreign affairs budget, with testimony from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and subcommittee hearing on women’s role in countering terrorism; House Financial Services Committee hearing on monetary policy and the state of the economy, with testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell; Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to receive testimony on U.S. Cyber Command from National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers in review of the defense authorization request for FY2019; Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nominations of Kevin Moley (to be assistant secretary of State for international organization affairs) and Josephine Olsen (to be director of the Peace Corps); Senate HELP Committee hearing on the role of technology and data in preventing and treating opioid addiction; Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee hearing on legislative presentation of disabled American veterans; House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Committee’s FY2019 budget views and estimates; House Agriculture Committee markup of the Committee’s FY2019 budget views and estimates; House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on federalism implications of treating states as stakeholders, with testimony from Utah Governor Gary Herbert, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter; House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the state of aviation safety, with testimony from representatives of the FAA, NASA, NTSB, Department of Transportation, and the Airline Pilots Association; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the state of the nation’s energy infrastructure; House Budget Committee oversight hearing of the Congressional Budget Office and the role of behavioral modeling in scoring and baseline construction; House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on terrorism and Iran and defense challenges in the Middle East;House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearings on TSA’s outreach and traveler engagement efforts and industry recommendations to improve DHS contractor employee vettingHouse Natural Resources Subcommittee hearings on two coastal barrier bills and liquefied natural gas and U.S. geopolitics; House Small Business Subcommittee hearings on how excessive licensing hurts small business and a GAO report on how red tape affects community banks and credit unionsHouse Judiciary Subcommittee hearings on competition in the pharmaceutical supply chain and the proposed merger of CVS Health and Aetna and implementation of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights ActHouse Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct in science; House Education and Workforce Subcommittee hearing on a more effective and collaborative OSHA;

Wednesday (February 28): Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to review FY2019 State Department budget request and redesign plans, with testimony from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Senate Commerce Committee executive session to consider the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act and four nominees to the Federal Trade Commission and hearing on implementation of positive train control; Senate HELP Committee executive session to consider the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments, Childhood Cancer STAR Act, State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act, and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee business meeting to consider the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act and nomination of Michael Atkinson to be inspector general of the intelligence community; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee oversight hearing of the FBI headquarters consolidation project; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on 5 bills; Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on legislative presentation of the American Legion; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearings to receive an update on the restoration of Puerto Rico’s electric infrastructure and review legislative proposals to combat the opioid crisis and help communities balance enforcement and patient safety; House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Zimbabwe after Mugabe; House Natural Resources Subcommittee legislative hearing on four special resource study bills;

Thursday (March 1): Senate Banking Committee hearing on the semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, with testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell; Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nominations of Robert Pence (to be ambassador to Finland) and Dr. Judy Shelton (to be executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development); Senate HELP Committee hearing on the nomination of John Ring to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the administration’s framework for rebuilding infrastructure; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on cybersecurity in our nation’s critical energy infrastructure; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing examining federal managers’ role in hiring.


By S-3 Public Affairs


The AP reports on how Olympic athletes are using social media to build their own brands prior to the games, winning endorsements before winning medals. The Olympic stage, however, has also dramatically boosted these athletes’ profiles. “Before breakout star Chloe Kim won gold in the snowboarding halfpipe event, her infectious personality and heartwarming origin story had already won her sponsorships from Toyota, Samsung, Visa and others. Of course, winning a gold medal amplifies an athlete’s reach. When Kim started the Olympics, she had 15,000 Twitter followers. She now has more than 285,000. She charmed thousands with tweets about eating ice cream and churros and being ‘hangry’ because she didn’t finish breakfast before her race. … While social media was around during prior Olympics, they have a much bigger presence this time around, with everything from Instagram “Stories” to auto-play videos on Twitter parlaying brand messages. The speed in which athletes break out to become stars happens more quickly now.”



Spending the long weekend binge watching the Olympics? Chances are you are watching on broadcast TV.  Morning Consult’s Anna Gronewold writes, “For the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, NBC is making a big push with digital broadcasting, livestreaming 1,800 hours of coverage — what the network called a record for a Winter Olympics. But more than three-quarters of likely U.S. viewers say they plan to watch the games through traditional television broadcasts.”

Recode adds a note about the ongoing competition for the streaming rights for NFL Thursday Night Football. “Twitter, Amazon, YouTube and Verizon are the remaining bidders, according to multiple sources. Twitter paid $10 million for these digital streaming rights from the NFL in 2016; Amazon won them in 2017 for $50 million, with the latest renewal going for much more. Verizon is an existing NFL partner and already owns some mobile streaming rights for Thursday. YouTube is the only company without a prior streaming relationship with the league, though CEO Susan Wojcicki said just this week that she would ‘love to stream the NFL.’”


President Trump will travel to the Pittsburgh area on Wednesday, February 21, for a campaign rally. The Washington Examiner reports that this will “[mark] the 20th campaign rally Trump has held in Pennsylvania since 2015. ‘This rally will provide an excellent opportunity for the President to connect once again with hard working Americans in the local community,’ Michael Glassner, executive director of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., said in a statement. ‘President Trump looks forward to an exciting visit to the Pittsburgh area to deliver the amazing news about our booming economy now that America is once again open for business.’”


The House and Senate are both out this week. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) takes place Wednesday through Friday (February 21-24) at the Gaylord just outside D.C. with speakers including President Trump (Friday) and Vice President Pence. The National Governors Association Winter Meeting begins Friday through next Sunday (February 23-26) in D.C.

By S-3 Public Affairs


Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods last year raised attention for the growing food delivery industry. Just this week Amazon announced free two hour Whole Foods delivery in a handful of markets (DC is not one yet, sorry). CNBC reports, “According to projections, 70 percent of shoppers will be buying some portion of their groceries online within five to seven years. That could equate to $100 billion in total spending. … The shift is already evident: 49 percent of all shoppers bought a packaged good online within the last three months. That includes 61 percent of millennials and 44 percent of baby boomers. It also includes 54 percent of affluent households and 40 percent of low-income households.”

This trend is making an impact not just on grocery stores but also on the restaurant industry. Bloomberg reports, “Yum! Brands Inc., the corporate parent of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, said Thursday it would buy a $200 million stake in GrubHub Inc., which will help deliver food from thousands of KFC and Taco Bell restaurants across the U.S., giving those chains a big lift in a growing market. … Yum is essentially acknowledging that, to build an audience for KFC and Taco Bell delivery, it needs access to GrubHub’s fast-growing customer base, which included 14.5 million active diners in the latest fiscal year.”

The New Yorker talked to several restaurants about the negative impact this is having on their businesses. “In 2016, delivery transactions made up about seven per cent of total U.S. restaurant sales. In a research report published last June, analysts at Morgan Stanley predicted that that number could eventually reach forty per cent of all restaurant sales, and an even higher percentage in urban areas and among casual restaurants, where delivery is concentrated.”



Recode reports on Snapchat’s latest effort to attract new advertisers: “Snap wants to attract new advertisers — specifically, it wants to attract advertisers who are spending money with its biggest competitor, Instagram. To lure them over, Snap is reaching out to those advertisers that are buying vertical video ads on Instagram and other competitors, and offering them free advertising credits to give Snapchat a try. … The program is technically open to advertisers who bought vertical video ads anywhere else online, but Instagram is the most likely place Snap will find new targets.”


The White House is expected to release its FY2019 budget and infrastructure proposal both on Monday. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will head to Capitol Hill for several budget hearings this week, beginning with the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday and House Budget Committee on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin will testify at the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday and at the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.


It’s a busy week on Capitol Hill with several hearings on the White House Budget request. The Senate is also expected to begin debate on immigration on Monday evening. The House is expected to consider two financial services bills.

Monday (February 12): Senate Foreign Relations Committee closed hearing on the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, with testimony from Assistant Secretaries of State A. Wess Mitchell and Christopher Ford;

Tuesday (February 13): Senate Budget Committee hearing on the President’s FY2019 budget proposal, with testimony from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Senate Intelligence Committee open hearing on worldwide threats; Senate HELP Committee hearing on reauthorization of FDA animal drug user fees; Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on the Defense Department’s role in protecting democratic elections; House Rules Committee meeting on the TRID Improvement Act, Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act, and ADA Education and Reform Act;

Wednesday (February 14): Senate Finance Committee hearings on the President’s FY2019 budget with testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the morning and from Acting IRS Commissioner and Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter in the afternoonSenate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nominations of Joel Carson (to be a Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit), Colm Connolly (for a District of Delaware judgeship), William Jung (for a Middle District of Florida judgeship), Maryellen Noreika (for a District of Delaware judgeship), and Ryan Holte (for a Court of Federal Claims judgeship); Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the President’s four nominees to the Federal Trade Commission; Senate Small Business Committee hearing on the nominations of David Tryon to be chief counsel for advocacy of the Small Business Administration and Hannibal Ware to be its inspector general; Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearings on the current readiness of U.S. forces and military and civilian personnel program and military family readiness; Senate HELP Committee hearing on the nomination of John Ring to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs business meeting to consider the nominees for director and deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management, 9 bills, and 22 postal naming bills; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee legislative hearing on 19 National Parks bills; House Budget Committee hearing on the President’s FY2019 budget with testimony from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services’ FY2019 budget request; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee oversight hearing of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with testimony from Deputy Administrator Heidi King and subcommittee hearings on the impact of healthcare consolidation and new source review permitting challenges for manufacturing and infrastructureHouse Financial Services Subcommittee hearings on the current data security and breach notification regulatory regime and 11 legislative proposals regarding derivativesHouse Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee joint hearing on emerging applications for blockchain technology; House Armed Services Committee hearing on the military and security challenges and posture in the Indo-Pacific region and subcommittee hearing on Air Force readiness posture; House Foreign Services Committee hearing on modernizing food aid and subcommittee hearings on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Administration’s peace plan and advancing U.S. interests through the Organization of American StatesHouse Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee hearing on artificial intelligence; House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee hearing on the government’s management of Native American schools; House Natural Resources Committee markup on 3 national monument and redesignation bills and subcommittee oversight hearing on the state of the nation’s water and power infrastructure; Bipartisan Policy Center event on budgeting for biodefense, featuring Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC);

Thursday (February 15): Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s FY2019 budget, with testimony from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nominations of Andrea Thompson (to be Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security), Francis Fannon (to be Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources), and Susan Thornton (to be Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs); Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing on the state of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, with testimony from Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo; Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting to vote on the nominations of 4 judicial nominees and Adam Klein to be chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act; Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Defense Authorization request for U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command; House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the President’s FY2019 budget proposal, with testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee oversight hearing of the Department of Health and Human Services; House Financial Services Subcommittee hearings on de-risking and its effect on access to financial services and the financial nexus of terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crimeHouse Homeland Security Subcommittee hearings on industry views of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program and TSA’s outreach and traveler engagement effortsHouse Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee hearing on the General Services Administration; House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the effect of sanctuary city policies on the ability to combat the opioid epidemic; House Armed Services Subcommittee hearings on strategic competition with China and the FY2019 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Forces and CommandHouse Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee oversight hearing of positive train control implementation in the U.S.; House Natural Resources Committee legislative hearings on the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act and 5 bills and subcommittee oversight hearing on the costs of denying border patrol access; House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee hearing on mentoring, training, and apprenticeships for STEM education and careers; House Small Business Subcommittee hearing on how agritech is revitalizing the Heartland; House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee joint hearing on the implications of the opioid epidemic for America’s workplaces; The Ripon Society event on the goals of the Main Street Caucus, featuring Chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Co-Chairs Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Fred Upton (R-MI); American Enterprise Institute event on securing the internet of things, with Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA); 

Friday (February 16): Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing on trade enforcement and infrastructure; House Energy and Oversight Subcommittee oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission; House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing on the administration’s perspective on CFIUS.


By S-3 Public Affairs

Still confused as to what bitcoin actually is? Square, the payment processing company, this week made an illustrated, digital story to explain it. The Verge writes, “The illustrations depict bitcoins as shiny letter Bs that can be chopped up into valuable fractions, kind of like a huge diamond. They’re made with “very complex math,” as explained by an illustration where computers with arms patch up a letter B while smiling. It goes on to cover exchanges, the blockchain, and even hints at the currency’s infamous volatility. The illustrated guide to Bitcoin is surprisingly clear, if looking at Dr. Seuss-esque cartoons that bear no semblance to reality can make an increasingly complex subject more comprehensible. To be fair, none of the text in the guide is wrong (depending on how you feel about the gold standard), and it does come with a disclaimer at the bottom to ‘please make wise financial decisions.’”

Expect bitcoin to be a topic of discussion next week when SEC Chairman Jay Clayton heads to the Hill Tuesday for a Senate Banking Committee hearing.



If you, your friend, or your kid has ever studied abroad, you’ve likely used WhatsApp. Recode this week reports, “Facebook and WhatsApp boasted record usership — 2.13 billion and 1.5 billion monthly active users, respectively — according to Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings yesterday. That’s despite a small decline in the number of users in the U.S. and Canada. WhatsApp is now bigger than Messenger, its rival/sibling messaging app. It’s also far bigger than Instagram. Facebook’s namesake app, of course, remains, on top.” TechCrunch adds a note about WhatsApp’s growth noting the 1.5 billion monthly active users is, “compared to 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily active users in July. The massive growth makes Facebook’s choice to pay more than $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp look prescient.

BONUS MEDIA: The AP reports, “It’ll be much easier to watch the Super Bowl online for free this year. NBC won’t require proof of a cable or satellite TV subscription, meaning that anyone in the U.S. can watch the game online. Plus, you’ll be able to watch the game on a phone even if you aren’t a Verizon customer, as was a requirement before.”


President Trump heads to Cincinnati Monday where he will discuss the benefits of tax reform. The president is speaking at a factory that gave each of its employees $1,000 bonuses thanks to the tax bill. Vice President Pence this week heads to Japan ahead of his planned attendance at the Olympics in South Korea. More on his trip in Axios AM here


The Senate is in session this week and the House is scheduled to be in session through Wednesday; House Democrats are scheduled to attend a retreat in Maryland from Wednesday to Friday. The current government funding bill runs out on Thursday.

Monday (February 5): Senate vote on the confirmation of Andrei Iancu to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; House Rules Committee hearing on the Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act, the Mortgage Choice Act, and the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act; House Administration Committee markup of Congressional Accountability Act reform measures;

Tuesday (February 6): Senate Banking Committee hearing on the oversight role of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission in virtual currencies, with testimony from SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher GiancarloSenate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the administration’s South Asia strategy in Afghanistan, with testimony from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Assistant Defense Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver; Senate HELP Committee hearing on the “gig economy” and the future of retirement savings; Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on beneficial ownership and fighting international financial networks through transparency; Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing on lessons learned about data security and bug bounty programs from the Uber breach; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing on spending uncertainty and cost to taxpayers caused by continuing resolutions, omnibus spending bills, and shutdown crises; House Financial Services Committee hearing on the annual report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, with testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; House Armed Services Committee hearing on national defense strategy and the nuclear posture review, with testimony from Defense Secretary James Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul J. Selva and subcommittee hearing on physiological episodes in fighter, attack, and training aircraft; House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the rural economy; House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. cyber diplomacy in an era of growing threats and subcommittee hearings on Syria and U.S.-Pakistan relationsHouse Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the VA caregiver support program; House Oversight and Government Reform Committee business meetingHouse Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on removing barriers to prevent and treat opioid abuse and dependence in Medicare; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on Department of Energy modernization; House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on 3 national monument bills; House Education and Workforce Subcommittee hearing to review the policies and priorities of the Mine Safety and Health Administration; House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on ensuring effective and reliable alerts and warnings;

Wednesday (February 7): Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the impact of federal environmental regulations and policies on American farming and ranching communities; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing to receive testimony on 15 bills; Senate Foreign Relations Committee closed hearing on Turkey; Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearings on the Defense Department’s role in countering weapons of mass destruction and Army modernizationSenate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee roundtable on Department of Homeland Security reauthorization, with testimony from Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke, Under Secretary for Management Claire Grady, Acting DHS Inspector General John Kelly, and Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro; House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on ensuring Social Security serves America’s veterans; House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on prevention and accountability of senior leader misconduct;

Thursday (February 8): Stopgap government funding bill expires; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on energy infrastructure; Senate HELP Committee hearing on the impact of the opioid crisis on children and families.

By Marianne LeVine and Theodoric Meyer

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

STATE OF THE UNION OFFERS FEW POLICY SPECIFICS ON INFRASTRUCTURE: Although many on K Street were watching the State of the Union address to see whether President Donald Trump would offer more specifics on his plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, the speech did not expand much on the president’s 2017 joint address to Congress. “The president set high expectations but was light on details,” said Stephen Martinko, government affairs counselor at K&L Gates. He added that while “the State of the Union was a strong signal that after more than a year of waiting, it’s now time for real work to begin on infrastructure,” much of that will depend on Congress. Jim Tymon, director of policy and management at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told PI that he was mostly satisfied with the speech and did not expect much more information, but said that he was concerned that the president did not talk about addressing the long-term insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund as part of his infrastructure plan.

– The (trillion-dollar) question that remains for lobbyists (and Congress) is how the infrastructure project gets funded. In Tuesday night’s speech, Trump called for $1.5 trillion in funding, up from a previous request for $1 trillion. “I’m not sure if that increase … means that there’s additional federal dollars or that means that they’re counting on additional state, local or private sector dollars to make up that difference,” Tymon said.

– Reception to the speech was positive. Mike Ference, partner at S-3 Public Affairs, said in an email statement that Trump recognized that “the path forward on legislation this year must be bipartisan” by “outlining his framework for an infrastructure package.” Lisa Kountoupes, president of Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid, said that “this was a strong speech that was well received by the President’s supporters.” She added that the big question that remains is whether “the White House will be able to compromise and work with Democrats to get the votes they need to enact the legislation everyone is interested in.” Steve Elmendorfa founder of and partner at Subject Matter, said that the speech “was different than past State of the Unions in that there was not a long forward-looking agenda, which is always disappointing for K Street.”

Continue reading at Politico…