Amendment to Stopgap Spending Bill Would Severely Limit Federal Agency Attendance at Meetings

WASHINGTON— ASAE and the association community are fighting a last-minute amendment to the continuing resolution (H.R. 933) under consideration in the Senate that would prohibit federal agencies from sending more than 25 employees to any meeting or conference held in the United States.

WASHINGTON— ASAE and the association community are fighting a last-minute amendment to the continuing resolution (H.R. 933) under consideration in the Senate that would prohibit federal agencies from sending more than 25 employees to any meeting or conference held in the United States.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), was offered in response to reports last year of wasteful conference spending by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While associations understand the need for fiscal responsibility when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars, the Coburn amendment would severely diminish federal agencies’ participation in face-to-face meetings with the industries they regulate.

The Coburn amendment (S. Amendment 67) is one of 99 amendments filed to the stopgap spending bill to keep the government operational through the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has asked senators to pare back this list of amendments dramatically, as he hopes to move ahead with a cloture vote on the CR on the evening of Monday, March 18.

Earlier today, ASAE circulated a sign-on letter to its grassroots network urging senators to oppose the Coburn amendment because it restricts the important dialogue that occurs at meetings and conferences attended by government employees and the private sector. More than 200 associations have joined ASAE on the letter, which will be delivered to Senate offices on March 18.

“ASAE supports lawmakers’ efforts to curb wasteful or unnecessary government spending, but Amendment 67 would arbitrarily limit the number of federal employees who can attend a meeting or conference to learn about the latest industry practices and pick up insights from the private sector that could lead to more effective policymaking,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE. “Isolating the government from the industries it regulates is a bad idea. We need to do everything we can to protect the mutually beneficial collaboration that occurs when government and the private sector meet face-to-face.”

Government attendance at meetings is one of the key issues that participants in American Associations Day are taking to Capitol Hill on March 18-19. American Associations Day is ASAE’s annual legislative fly-in, attended by association professionals from more than 30 states who come to Washington to share their concerns with their legislators and promote the value of the association community to the economy and society as a whole.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sabrina Kidwai, [email protected], 202-326-9505.

About ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership
ASAE is a membership organization of more than 21,000 association executives and industry partners representing 10,000 organizations. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more information about ASAE, visit www.asaecenter.org