In the News

The Hill: Lobbying World | March 14, 2017

Chamber Hill Strategies brought on two Republicans: Eric Schmutz, former deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), and Kyle Sanders, a former legislative director and counsel for Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.). Schmutz also served in the George W. Bush administration as the director of legislative affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

POLITICO Playbook | March 14, 2017

By Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman

Kyle Sanders is joining D.C. government affairs firm Chamber Hill Strategies as a principal; he previously was legislative director and counsel for Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.). Eric Schmutz joined the firm as principal last week; he most recently was legislative director and deputy COS for Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kans.).

The Hill: Healthcare Groups Unload on GOP Bill | March 9, 2017

By Megan R. Wilson

But the lobbying right now is primarily focused on the House, said Jennifer Bell, the co-founder of Chamber Hill Strategies, who has worked for Republicans on both health and tax-writing committees.

“The next two weeks or three weeks is make or break. If it passes the House, how it passes can be very indicative of what a strategy might be in the Senate,” she said.

National Journal | March 9, 2017

Carousel: Eric Schmutz to Chamber Hill Strategies

For Eric Schmutz, a former House staffer and health care and tax expert, the timing couldn’t be better. Just as the House begins to consider health care legislation, Schmutz has joined Chamber Hill Strategies, the boutique political consultancy with a health care focus. Schmutz served as legislative director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, who is a Ways and Means Committee member. He was legislative director for former Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. He spent seven years working in George W. Bush’s administration.

Roll Call: Staffer Shuffle | March 9, 2017

By Alex Gangitano

Eric Schmutz is now a principal at the government affairs firm, Chamber Hill Strategies. He was previously legislative director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.

POLITICO Influence | 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.”

POLITICO Influence | 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

The Lobbyist

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.