PLM Lobby Group | Death of Senate Egypt Democracy Bill
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) Egypt Democracy Bill (S. Res 586) | The PLM Group, Sen. Dianne Fienstein And The Death of Bill Supporting Reform In Egypt
It is an object lesson in futility and frustration, the death of Egypt Democracy Bill on the Senate floor weeks before the unrest and blood now being spilled on the streets of Cairo.
Foreign Policy magazine has a fascinating account of how a Senate resolution (S. Res 586, pdg) seeking greater human rights reforms, calling on Hosni Mubarak to have free and fair elections died because of partisan wrangling and lobbying.
Apparently, the Egypt democracy bill was gaining popularity in July 2010 but ultimately died before it could be submitted to a vote to the Senate.
Senator John McCain blames the intense partisanship on Capital Hill and the Obama administrations intransigence.
In a tweet to promote the Foreign Policy Magazine story, Senator John McCain said "How the Senate Resolution on Egyptian Democracy died."
The Senate Resolution S. RES. 586 was fairly assertive proposing election monitors for the Egypt elections, the release of political prisoners, an emphasis on political reform, icluding electoral reform under the Mubarak government.
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain has called on Hosni Mubarak to step down, now it is clear McCain is carving a clear distinct space for himself in terms of Egyptian policy.
But what is equally fascinating is the role of Senator Dianne Feinstein, a democrat scuttling the bill and the role of the uber-lobby group, The PLM Group.
Senator Dianne Fiestien Helps Kills Egypt Democracy Bill
When contacted by The Cable, Foreign Policy Magazine's online brand, a spokesperson for Senator Dianne Feinstein said the following:
Phil LaVelle, a spokesman for Feinstein, would not discuss the senator's effort to alter the resolution to make it more acceptable to the Egyptians, but he did acknowledge that her office stood in the way of the resolution for a time.
"Senator Feinstein had initial concerns; we worked with the co-sponsors to get those concerns resolved, and at the end of the day she did not object to its passage," LaVelle told The Cable.
The PLM Group - Umbrella Lobby Group For Egypt
There Washington lobby firms make up the PLM Group - an uber-group formed in 2007. The PLM Group represents the interests of the Egyptian regime in Washington.
The PLM Group is a joint venture between the Podesta Group, run by well-known Democratic fundraiser and lobbyist Tony Podesta, and the Livingston Group, headed by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.). Moffett — chairman of his own firm, the Moffett Group — serves as co-chairman of the venture.
The Cable reports that Livingston called Republican Senator Rob Wicker was indeed opponent to the Egypt Democracy resolution.
In the end the non-binding resolution went nowhere.
...thanks to a concerted and intense lobbying campaign by Egypt and its U.S. lobbyists. The measure was blocked by anonymous objections in the waning days of the last Congress, just weeks before massive protests broke out on the streets of Cairo.
"They would view something like that as an unwarranted intrusion into their affairs, to the level of a grand insult," said former Connecticut congressman Toby Moffett (D), one of Egypt's chief U.S. lobbyists. "It was a very big deal to them."
The extent of lobbying on behalf of Egypt is remarkable. Egypt receives about $1.9 billion in mostly military aid from the United States.
The Livingston Group carried the heaviest lobbying load for the government of Egypt, including leading an Egyptian military delegation to over 100 meetings on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists for The Livingston Group, including the former congressman himself, brought the military delegation to 147 meetings with members of Congress and their staff meet. In those April, 2010 meetings, the delegation received meetings with forty-five members of Congress and 102 congressional staffers.