04 Oct FDRA Insight: Government Shutdown and Footwear
Barricades have been erected around the monuments in Washington and in some federal areas around the FDRA’s office, which is strategically situated between the White House and the Capitol. The government shut down has caused agencies to stop many of their services as the federal workforce is narrowed to only essential workers, and much of Washington feels like a ghost town. So what did FDRA do yesterday? We laced up. Went to Congress and had 14 meetings with Members of Congress and staff asking them to help provide the footwear industry duty relief by supporting the Affordable Footwear Act and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Having over a decade of combined experience on Capitol Hill, we knew that committee work halted and Congressional staff would have ample time to sit down and discuss footwear issues in-depth and without any interruptions. We were right and had some of the best meetings we have had all year. This is exactly what FDRA members can expect from us: the experience and knowledge to capitalize on issues and situations in Washington when others don’t realize the opportunity exists.
What we heard From Members of Congress and staff yesterday:
There seems no short term fix in sight (over the next few days). Many are talking about a grand bargain to end the shutdown – a large package that funds the government, raises the debt ceiling, and includes tax reforms. Others are not sure if a grand bargain can happen, but want this shutdown to end as well as find a way to raise the debt ceiling.
FDRA shutdown analysis:
The politics of a grand bargain is complicated but the idea is that a large package provides everyone wiggle room to compromise as well as providing each party a “win”…allowing each side to save face by spinning it as a victory rather than defending the compromises. We are unsure if this will in fact be the case – moving a major bill like this when negotiations between the two parties have yet to commence in earnest makes this much harder to accomplish as we approach the debt limit.
Many in Congress are not happy with the shutdown. While the loudest voices make the news, its important to remember there are many inside the Capitol looking to solve this shutdown, the debt ceiling as well as many other issues. What moves Congress is heat and pressure. Our guess is that if Congress returns home over the weekend, constituents will provide enough heat and pressure for a majority of Congress to return next week and start to push for compromises and an end game.
Shutdown Impact on Footwear
Obviously, with over 800,000 federal workers furloughed across the nation retail spending could be impacted. Companies with creative ideas targeting federal workers in their areas (providing discounts to federal workers showing IDs in appreciation of their service) could generate positive public relations and gain brand followers. Furthermore, such campaigns could be expanded to all government workers (a “government worker appreciation week”) which would allow you to invite mayors, governors, Lt. governors, and members of Congress to your headquarters and stores to learn more about your company and help push them to support ending footwear duties.
Support your coworkers – USTR is still negotiating TPP during the shutdown – now is a great time to weigh in. It takes 1 minute to fill in your contact details and click send. TPP will help strengthen our industry – providing you and your coworkers with increased job security.
Key governmental websites will be down during this time including the USITC website. If you run into issues, please contact FDRA. We are your advocate and guide when it comes to the Federal Government, and will work to assist you through the shutdown.