Andy Franke Reflects on Time On and Off the Hill

What are some of the highlights of your career?

When I got out of law school, I wanted to focus on health policy, so I took a big chance and got an internship on Capitol Hill. I was lucky enough to get my first permanent job with a member from my home state in the House of Representatives only about 8 months after I first arrived in DC. A year later, I became Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins’ (R-KS) health policy advisor, which was another major highlight. Working in Congress just generally was fun. After she announced her retirement in January 2017, I was fortunate to go work for Congressman Eric Paulsen (R-MN) – like Congresswoman Jenkins, he was another great member of the House Ways and Means Committee. I really enjoyed working with him – he had a lot of major medical device and healthcare companies headquartered in his district, which provided some great experience.

As a Hill staffer, how did you observe advocacy change over the years?

When I first started taking meetings for Congresswoman Jenkins, I had more exposure to constituents who came in to advocate for their own issues and ideas, and as I took on more responsibility, I started to meet with more prominent organizations and registered lobbyists. Over the years, because of the way legislation moved, advocacy on the Hill went from being concentrated on one-off meetings during the year to being more sustained throughout the year. When I left the Hill, because of the issue portfolio I had and the legislative landscape, I was having meetings almost every day. I also noticed that I was meeting with more established lobbyists instead of younger advocates over time.

What are some of the biggest challenges lobbyists and advocates face in 2023?

Ironically enough, the return to how it was after two or three years of virtual meetings. A lot of senior lobbyists used to be on the Hill all day long to meet in-person, but the pandemic shut that down, and they had to transition to phone and video calls. Even events like fundraisers were done through videoconferencing. Now, it’s almost back to the normal way of going to the Hill in the morning and seeing who you could meet up with off-the-record. After 3 years of not being able to do that, it’s a little bit challenging to get back into the swing of things. But it’s a welcome change, in my opinion. I really like the fact that you can finally go back to the Hill and walk in the building as a normal person without the need for an escort – you can just make an appointment, go to the Hill, and after your meeting is done, go back to the Longworth café, or Cups.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve received?

A good friend and mentor who’s been lobbying for 25 years told me that if you go up to the Capitol and you don’t get a tingling feeling, then it’s time to hang it up and move on, because once you don’t get that feeling anymore, your job probably won’t be fulfilling. But if you continue to get that feeling, and you stay excited about your job, you’re going to be good at your job, whether it’s a Hill staffer, lobbyist, or advocacy professional. I think about that a lot, and I make sure that I still get the feeling that I’m happy to be there and I’m fortunate to be able to do this in the Capitol of the United States. Not many people get this opportunity.

Other that health care, what other policy areas are you passionate about?

For the 4 years that I lobbied for Zimmer Biomet, I was the go-to tax lobbyist. That was not an issue I handled in Congress, so it was a steep learning curve. At first, I did not enjoy tax policy – it’s incredibly weedy, maybe more so than health care. It took a while, but I made great relationships during the learning process. And like health care, it never seems to go away.

What else should we know about you?

I’m an avid golfer. I try to get better every time I play. I picked up golf in 2019 and worked on my game during the pandemic. I’ve also been married for seven years now, and I have two sons – one was just born a month ago, and I recently moved out to Virginia from DC. We lived in DC for 8 years, and we’re loving it out here in Virginia – there’s more space, and it’s a great place to raise a family. Life is good.