What is lobbying?
Lobbying is an individual or organization’s attempt to influence legislation by contacting (Direct Lobbying), or urging the public to contact (Grassroots Lobbying), members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing specific legislation. For example, policy makers in Washington are continually debating and making decisions which will impact your ability to conduct research. Public officials cannot make fair and informed decisions without considering information from a broad range of interested parties. Lobbyists and organizations that engage in lobbying help to provide information from all viewpoints in order to produce fair federal policies. While most people think of lobbyists as paid professionals, anyone can lobby, and all who do so are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Can AIMBE Lobby?
Yes. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, AIMBE may engage in some lobbying.
Over its twenty year history, AIMBE has scored major achievements in influencing public policy. AIMBE enjoys high credibility and respect based on the status of our Fellows.
AIMBE may, however, may be involved in public policy or advocacy without the activity being considered lobbying. For example, AIMBE has conducted educational meetings on Capitol Hill in the form of Congressional Briefings on the regulatory process at the Food and Drug Administration and biomedical engineering research at the National Institutes of Health. Preparing and distributing educational materials or otherwise considering public policy issues in an educational manner is not lobbying. Also, staff researching legislation, regulations, or other public policies is not lobbying.
Can AIMBE get involved in political activity?
AIMBE may not engage in political activity defined as participating in, or intervening in any political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Doing so would threaten AIMBE’s tax-exempt status. This includes endorsing specific candidates or political parties for office, and donating to campaigns, political parties, and political action committees.
AIMBE members and staff may be involved in political activities on a voluntary basis, not on behalf of AIMBE, or while in the course of their normal business activities.
A Member of Congress introduces legislation. The official process begins when a bill is numbered, (“H.R.” signifies a bill originating in the U.S. House of Representatives and “S.” signifies a bill originating in the U.S. Senate) referred to a committee and printed.
Step 1 – Referral to Committee: A bill is referred to standing committee in House or Senate. The referral is determined by which committee, or committees, has jurisdiction over the issues addressed in the bill.
Step 2 – Committee Action: When a bill reaches a committee, it is placed on the committee’s calendar. If the committee chairperson decides not to hear a bill, or act upon it in some other way, it is the equivalent of “killing the bill” – meaning it will progress no further.
Step 3 – Subcommittee Review: Often, bills are referred to a subcommittee from the originating committee. Hearings held at the subcommittee or committee level allow the views of the executive branch, other public officials, experts, supporters and opponents to be put on the record.
Step 4 – Mark Up: After hearings are held, the subcommittee may “mark up” the bill (make changes or add amendments) prior to recommending it to the full committee. If a subcommittee votes not to report the bill to the full committee, the bill “dies,” and will not be considered further.
Step 5 – Committee Action: After receiving the subcommittee’s report on the bill, the full committee can conduct further hearings, or it can vote and “order the bill reported” to the respective chamber where the bill originated: House or Senate.
Step 6 – Written Report: After the bill is reported, committee staff prepares a report on the bill describing the intent and scope of the legislation.
Step 7 – Scheduling Floor Action: The bill is then placed in chronological order on a calendar. The House keeps several legislative calendars, and the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader largely determine if, when, and in what order, bills come before the House. In the Senate, there is only one legislative calendar.
Step 8 – Debate: After being placed on the schedule, a bill reaches the floor of the House or Senate. The chamber must vote on the rules determining the amount of time allocated for debate on the bill.
Step 9 – Voting: After debate and approval of any amendments, the chamber votes. Votes may be recorded electronically or by voice vote. A recorded or “roll call” vote contains the names of members who vote for or against the bill, or who did not vote at all. A voice vote is a simple “aye” or “no” and the presiding officer in the chamber determines the result. If a bill is non-controversial, or has been reviewed sufficiently by each member of Congress before even reaching the floor, it can be voted on without scheduling any debate. This is called “unanimous consent” or “suspension of the rules.”
Step 10 – Referral: When the House or Senate passes a bill, it is referred to the other chamber which may approve the bill, reject it, ignore it or change it through the same committee or subcommittee action as described above.
Step 11 – Conference Committee: If the opposite chamber only makes minor changes, the legislation goes back to the originating chamber for approval of the changes. However, if the bill has been significantly altered, a conference committee with members from both chambers is formed to reconcile the differences. If the conferees can reach an agreement, a conference report is prepared, if not, the bill dies.
Step 12 – Presidential Action: After a bill has been passed in identical forms through the House and Senate (or reported out of a conference committee), it is sent to the President who may either sign it into law or veto (reject) it. If Congress is in session and the President takes no action, it automatically becomes law. If Congress has already adjourned its second session and the President takes no action, it is called a “pocket veto” and the bill is rejected.
Step 13 – Overriding a Veto: Congress may attempt to override a presidential veto, which requires a two-thirds majority roll call vote.