The federal government shutdown is now in its second week, and pundits suggest that it may last through mid-October – although there are recent signs that an agreement is imminent. Nonetheless, whenever the government resumes operations – and it will; it’s only a matter of time – the congressional agenda will be consumed by a myriad of looming legislative issues that must be considered before year-end.
Among the legislative issues that may receive congressional attention are immigration and tax reform, which will have implications for the HR sector. While we do not anticipate that Congress will pass immigration and tax reform in the waning days of 2013, we do suspect that lawmakers will begin discussing frameworks for considering these two issues, anticipating final congressional action on one or both of these issues by the summer of 2014.
While many advocates have taken to the phones, social media and other traditional methods of communicating with lawmakers and their staffs to voice their concerns about pending legislative issues, HR constituents are taking matters into their own hands!
With the threat of a government shutdown looming, members from a number of SHRM chapters in Georgia traveled to Washington for their 5th Day Inside the Beltway (DITB) event on Capitol Hill on October 1 – Day 1 of the shutdown! Surprisingly, the Georgia group was able to meet directly with three of their House members, Reps. John Barrow, Jack Kingston and John Lewis (pictured below - 4th from left) as well as with Sen. Johnny Isakson, to discuss relevant HR policy issues.
Without the daily distractions of hearings, votes and other congressional business, the group was able to get their lawmakers’ undivided attention to discuss such topics as the need to preserve the tax preference of certain employment benefits – such as health care, retirement contributions and employer-provided educational assistance – along with immigration reform, specifically the need to enhance the current E-Verify system and eliminate the need to continue completing Form I-9. Read a blog post by Sally Roberts, SHRM GA director-elect, on the group’s experience HERE.
SHRM's Day Inside the Beltway program is an excellent way for members to share their views on pending legislation with their legislators. During such visits, SHRM's Government Affairs Team can pre-schedule meetings for state council/chapter representatives with their representatives and senators, and can provide a briefing on the issues prior to the meetings. This allows SHRM members to show their knowledge and expertise on workplace issues, and ultimately to advance the interests of the HR profession. Lawmakers and their staffs need to hear from HR practitioners so that they can make an informed decision when voting on HR-related public policy issues.
For information on how to schedule a Day Inside the Beltway event for your chapter or state council, please contact Chatrane Birbal, SHRM's senior associate for government relations.