Although President-elect Barack Obama's voting record has been prototypically Democratic, he will likely govern in a centrist manner, said Robert Walker, chairman of ABM's Washington lobbying group Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, on Monday.
Walker gave ABM members his personal perspective on the changing currents in the nation's capital in the weeks after Obama was elected president and his party increased its majorities in the House and Senate. Before joining the lobbying firm in 1997, Walker represented Pennsylvania's 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years.
Not all of the newly elected Democrats in Congress have been cut from the party's traditional union- and labor-friendly cloth, Walker said. The combination of these so-called “blue dog” Democrats with Republicans in Congress could make for a more business-friendly environment—without big increases in regulation and government intervention—than would have characterized a Democratic-dominated Washington in the past, he said.
The economic downturn will have an impact on Obama's priorities, Walker said. “To make good on election promises like renegotiating NAFTA would be an unmitigated disaster,” he said.
At a time of upheaval in Washington, ABM is fortunate to have a bipartisan reputation, Walker said. “You have a chance to play an activist role,” he said.
Walker also noted that ABM has new challenges as its members step up their digital operations, requiring a broadening of the association's relationships beyond committees and agencies concerned with postal issues. M