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OUR PERSPECTIVES

Advocacy in a Post-Chevron World



The recent Supreme Court decision to end the Chevron doctrine marks a significant shift in regulatory and legislative power in DC. The Chevron doctrine granted federal agencies considerable deference in interpreting ambiguous statutes. With this deference now curtailed, the responsibility for interpreting and implementing laws falls more squarely on Congress as legislative text must be much more explicit in what agencies can and cannot do. This shift presents both challenges and opportunities for advocacy groups, whose role in educating and influencing Congress is now more crucial than ever.

 

With regulators now having less decision-making ability, Congress will need to take a more active role in clarifying and defining regulatory actions. This shift places a greater burden on congressional staff to understand complex issues and draft precise, unambiguous laws. Given that congressional teams are generally small, handle many issues, and don’t have regulatory backgrounds - this is no small task.

 

This means that advocacy groups, especially the ones with technical experience, have an important role to play. Advocacy stakeholders have always been key players in the policymaking process from highlighting issues in a lawmakers’ home state to providing expertise to sharing perspectives on a wide range of policies. With the end of the Chevron doctrine, their role in educating and influencing Congress becomes even more critical.


Here’s how stakeholders can prepare for effective advocacy with Congress:


Providing Expertise and Data: Advocacy groups often have deep expertise in specific areas. It will be more important than ever to provide congressional staff with data, research findings, and expert analysis that can inform the drafting of clear and effective legislation. Congressional offices will lean on external groups to think through the implementation of draft legislative text and its implications on the ground much more than before the Supreme Court ruling when these decisions were left to the agencies.

 

Building a Kitchen Cabinet of Experts: Coalition building will be crucial to bring together diverse stakeholders - including industry, community leaders, and academia - to build broad-based support for specific legislative initiatives. These coalitions can work with congressional staff on solutions and will have a much greater role in reviewing draft legislative text to ensure there is unified support.  Congressional staff will feel much more comfortable leading policy efforts when they can easily access a “kitchen cabinet” of experts through diverse and unified coalitions.


Educating Legislators and Staff: Through briefings, reports, and direct meetings, external groups will need to educate policymakers and their staff on the nuances of complex issues. Through caucuses and committees, it will be important to speak to not just problems of the moment but what external stakeholders anticipate will be problematic one to five years from now.


Monitoring and Accountability: Since agencies will not be able to adapt to a changing policy landscape as easily, external organizations will need to play a larger role in monitoring implementation and alerting Congress when a regulation is no longer impactful to the state or district. When a new action is required, the process of education and coalition consultation begins once again.


Making This a Long-Term Relationship: This new dynamic requires external stakeholders to be strategic in their long-term priorities. With a greater upfront commitment to working closely with staff, priorities might need to be narrowed. Gone are the days of a once-a-year fly-in to have impact. Stakeholders now must be prepared to engage in long-term efforts, as the process of crafting and passing legislation can be slow and arduous.

 

As the dynamics of power and responsibility evolve, the contributions of advocacy groups will be more important than ever in ensuring that legislative outcomes reflect the needs and values of the American people.

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