March 8, 2017
By Theodoric Meyer
JENKINS AIDE HEADS TO CHAMBER HILL: Eric Schmutz, a former deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), is joining Chamber Hill Strategies as a principal. Before heading to Jenkins’ office in 2009, he worked for HUD. Jenkins, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said she won’t run for reelection.
Schmutz plans to focus initially on health care, he said in an interview after stepping out from the Ways and Means Committee’s markup of the Speaker Paul Ryan’s health care bill. How does he see the bill moving forward amid significant opposition from the most conservative Republicans? “The advice I would give my colleagues is to be prepared for anything,” Schmutz said. “Every avenue of it is under discussion. … A major bill like this isn’t going to happen until it does happen.”
March 1, 2017
By Isaac Arnsdorf
RUBIO, COTTON TO HEADLINE FUNDRAISER FOR MANDEL: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) will headline a fundraiser on Monday for Ohio Secretary of State Josh Mandel, who’s seeking a rematch against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in one of next year’s most watched Senate races. A number of K Street types are among the hosts, including Kirk Blalock of Fierce Government Relations, Rob Chamberlin of Signal Group, Cesar Conda of Navigators Global, Jenn Higgins of Chamber Hill Strategies, Matt Keelen of the Keelen Group, Stephen Replogle of Cove Strategies and Geoff Verhoff of Akin Gump. Mandel could still face a primary against GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, who’s built a substantial campaign war chest. Here’s the invitation.
The Wheaton Record: Inside D.C.: Alumni Perspectives
January 26, 2017
By Sarah Holcomb
When she arrived in D.C., Jennifer Bell ‘93 was a 29-year-old speech pathologist — an outsider. Her class schedule, like Noetzel’s, never included a political science course. Her major: French.
Moving to Washington with her husband, a fellow Wheaton grad, Bell found a part-time job at a local hospital and decided to intern at Congress at the same time. That decision launched her 15-year journey through the world of public policy, which would reinvent her career, eventually leading her to co-found her own healthcare-focused lobbying firm.
As she ushered us through her home into an airy room decorated with white linen, the house seemed to stand worlds away from the buzzing streets of downtown Washington. Yet Capitol Hill is a better reflection of Bell’s mission than the quiet, wooded hill where her house sits. Bell loves the way that Washington is “concentrated” with ambitious people — go-getters gathered from around the country and the world.
Washington D.C. is a company town, Bell said — only the “company” is the federal government.
Bell’s lack of experience and “preconceived ideas” about policy making allowed her to stand out in the world of Washington, which focused on ideology. Unlike many of her colleagues developing healthcare legislation, Bell possessed a rare perspective: that of a “real person that had a real job.”
“I understand the practical implications of some of the laws we were trying to change,” she told us. That knowledge helps her to address the various needs of her clients, who include organizations like hospitals, associations of doctors and companies or CEOs.
Today, as a professional who works on behalf of clientele largely outside of the political hub, it isn’t surprising that Bell supports “outsiders” who seek to renovate Washington. It’s one reason why she supported President Trump early in the primary season when most of her colleagues did not.
“I live here and work here, but I love disruption,” she said. “I think this is a town that’s too static in its patterns.” Bell noted that her perspective reflects that of her home state, Vermont, whose suspicious and self-reliant attitude caused it to refuse to join the 13 colonies until later when it became the 14th state. “I kind of like the idea that there will be this dynamite thrown in there,” she said of the new administration.
Nevertheless, it’s “good to have a mix” of experienced politicians and newcomers, Bell added. “There’s a lot of expertise in Washington that kind of stays here.”
Learning and practicing integrity is critical in D.C., Bell said. “You can build it over time and destroy it really fast.” She stressed the need for Christians in Washington to exercise honesty and consideration. “You can have strong opinions, but do your research and take someone else’s perspective,” she said. “Try to understand what they think and build relationships.”
The Wheaton Record: Obamacare Repeal and Replacement, Explained
January 24, 2017
By Kelsey Plankeel
Price transparency would mandate that healthcare providers — such as physicians and clinics — display prices for services. Presumably, if consumers know how expensive a procedure or service is, and have to pay for that service out of their own pocket, then they may choose a less expensive option. This would mirror the ACA’s requirement that certain restaurants post calorie counts next to menu items. Jennifer Bell, a healthcare lobbyist in the D.C. area, said she is unsure as to whether Americans will “ever get to the point where cheaper feels better overall.” She said that while cheaper options are adequate, if a loved one gets ill, family members often opt for a more expensive option, which is often perceived as higher quality.
This could take years, according to Bell. Additionally, insurance companies — who are at the frontline of implementing new healthcare rules — need at least 18 months to receive final rules, develop and approve bids and offer the plans to consumers. With no current replacement plan in motion, it could be at least two years before a new healthcare system is activated. The long-term process of healthcare implementation is exemplified by Obamacare, for which full implementation will not be completed until 2022.
According to Bell, one difference between Democrats and Republicans in healthcare policy making is that “Democrats tend to want to dictate very specifically what should happen; they don’t want to leave any room for chance. Republicans are more into flexibility and optionality as long as you meet certain standards.” She noted that this — the strict interpretation of law — was a factor in the Wheaton College v. Burwell case in 2015.
December 22, 2016
By Isaac Arnsdorf
PRICE LAND: Downtowners close to Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick for HHS include: Travis Johnson with Eris Group; Matt McGinley of Advanced Policy Consulting (who lobbies for Amgen and PhRMA); Kyle Cormney, who recently left the Budget Committee staff for FTI Consulting; Ari Storch, who is joining the Madison Group; Keagan Lenihan with McKesson; Laura Holland Kemper of Chamber Hill Strategies; Ashlee Reid Morehouse of Republic Strategies; Jeff Hamling with Dentons.
Roll Call: Republican Gender Gap Could Grow in the House
November 28, 2016
By Simone Pathé
House Republicans will be down one woman next year. And with administration picks forthcoming and a handful of female members weighing runs for other offices, the party’s gender gap could grow.
With their largest majority in more than 80 years, Republicans were mostly on defense in 2016.
It was a “hold year,” said Jennifer Higgins, the chairwoman of congressional outreach for RightNow Women PAC, which supports female Republican candidates…
November 14, 2016
By Isaac Arnsdorf
Led by Laura Holland Kemper, former aide to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Chamber Hill Strategies will be working on Medicare Part B payment issues for the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care and over-the-counter hearing aids for ICOT Health Systems. “With Obamacare repeal and replace on the table, organizations are looking for Republican muscle,” co-founder Jennifer Bell said. “It’s going to be a wild year.”
Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns
October 26, 2016
Michaela Sims and Jennifer Bell, Chamber Hill Strategies
Sims and Bell took a risk to found their own firm and now are reaping the benefits of what is rapidly becoming one of the most successful healthcare-focused shops on K Street.
Caught Our Eye: Carper aide now at Chamber Hill Strategies
July 13, 2016
By Keturah Hetrick
After almost five years of working for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ted Prettyman has moved on to Chamber Hill Strategies, where he works as an associate.
Chamber Hill Strategies was started by two former Hill staffers in 2012. In addition to public policy and government relations, the firm also offers special event hosting and social media advocacy.
Prettyman served most recently as Carper’s legislative correspondent, where he covered health-policy issues. He also previously worked for the senator as a constituent services representative.
He holds an MA degree in political science from American University and a BA in political science and history from the University of Delaware.
What Clinton’s Nomination Means for Women’s Groups
June 8, 2016
By Meridith McGraw
“I don’t think the differences have a lot to do with party,” said Jenn Higgins, a founder of RightNOW Women PAC. “Infrastructure gets at all the reasons Republican women don’t run for office. How do I raise money? Engage with the press? So RightNOW is playing a critical role in providing that infrastructure and building that network of women across the country.”