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Supplementary Guide

to Cabinet Positions
Harvard Model
Prepared by Ronnie Anguas and Sonam Velani Congress Asia

Welcome to the Presidential Cabinet of Harvard Model Congress
Asia. Over the course of the next few months, you will have the oppor-
tunity to delve into the issues and responsibilities that test the leaders of
departments and agencies that constitute the Executive Branch of the
United States Government. This process will no doubt expose you to
new ideas and challenge your understanding of how government works
and what skills are necessary for effective leadership.
The Presidential Cabinet is responsible for advising the president
on any subject he may require relating to the duties of their respective
offices. The Cabinet includes the vice president and, by law, the heads
of 15 executive departments, as well as the people the president regards
as crucial for coordinating national policy at the highest level. It is the
duty of each Cabinet member to provide the president with recommen-
dations on policy issues at hand, as well as to implement the president's
decision in their respective departments. While the president's agenda is
of principal concern to each Cabinet member, they are each responsible
for representing their department’s interests and opinions. Thus, the
Cabinet is seldom unified in its consideration of any single issue. In-
stead, it usually turns out to be a meeting of clashing, diverse, and inde-
pendent voices. It is the special challenge of a Cabinet to establish con-
sensus amidst the turmoil.
Before the conference, you will be responsible for developing
policy papers outlining your advice to the president on the issues you
have been assigned. In order to formulate these proposals you may wish
to contact the department you are representing or use it's website to con-
duct research. Each cabinet department has a website that provides full
biographical and policy information about the both the Cabinet members
and the issues on which the president may call on them to report. For
more general sources of information, visit the White House website.
News outlets are also excellent sources for policy research, especially
New York Times—the
the New York Times. It is critical that you understand the responsibili- premier U.S. newspa-
ties and background of the cabinet member that you will be representing per, online at
at Harvard Model Congress Asia. You are the sole representative of

your department and its interests, so your well-informed participation is
essential to a productive, insightful, exciting session of the Presidential
Please contact us with questions, concerns, or random musings
as they arise over the next few months. The Harvard Model Congress
Asia website ( will be our primary means of commu-
nication, so check it regularly, and don’t hesitate to email us through the
site. We are looking forward to meeting you and spending a terrific
weekend together.


Nominated by President Bush in 2004, former White House Le-
gal Counsel Alberto Gonzales is currently the United States Attorney
General, an executive office as old as the federal government itself.
Among the duties of the office are administering of the Department of
Justice, prosecuting of criminal cases involving the government, and Prosecuting—to con-
directing of the system of federal jails. The attorney general also pro- duct a formal legal pro-
ceeding against some-
vides legal advice to the president and the heads of executive depart- one suspected of a
ments. These opinions are published and provide precedents and guide- crime.
lines for future action. Thus, the opinions of the Attorney General are
important in shaping the government’s interpretation of the law. Counsel—legal advi-
Acting as the President’s legal counsel since 2001, Alberto Gon- sor.
zales developed a reputation for being a moderate voice among the Moderate—neither
President’s closest advisors. Prior to serving in the White House, Gon- especially liberal or
zales served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas (1999-2001) conservative.
and as Secretary of State of Texas (1997-1999). As a Justice of the Su- Abortion—a contro-
preme Court of Texas, Gonzales raised eyebrows among the more con- versial surgical method
that ends a pregnancy.
servative Republicans with some moderate rulings, including a majority Opposed by most Re-
vote not requiring some teenagers to get parental permission before publicans, but strongly
abortion. Before his appointment as Attorney General, Gonzales was supported by nearly all
the General Counsel to Governor Bush for three years. Alberto Gonzales Democrats.
graduated from Rice University in 1979 and received his JD from Har- Geneva Conven-
vard Law School in 1982. He served in the United States Air Force be- tions—international
tween 1973 and 1975 and attended the United States Air Force Acad- agreements regarding
the treatment of prison-
emy between 1975 and 1977.
ers of war.
Gonzales is the first Hispanic American to hold a Cabinet posi-
tion. In January of 2002, Gonzales was criticized for writing a memo
Guantanamo Bay—a
that suggested the President’s administration may be held accountable controversial military
for “war crimes” if it did not agree with the decision of Justice Depart- prison facility where the
ment attorneys that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners U.S. keeps suspected
held at Guantanamo Bay, where people captured in the War on Terror terrorists.
are held.

Generally speaking, the Attorney General will work to justify the
legal grounds for some of the President’s policies. For instance, when
President Bush wanted to expand the government’s rights of search and
investigation, Mr. Gonzales was at the forefront of the legal battle. As
necessary, the Attorney General will also participate in the discussions
of the National Security Council.

For more information: and http://

The Attorney General should pay special attention to these issues that
will be discussed in Congress: Wiretapping, National IDs, Enemy Com-


Mike McConnell was appointed as the country’s second Director
of National Intelligence (DNI) on February 13, 2007. He serves as the
head of the intelligence community. The DNI is also the main advisor to
the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security
Council. He also supervises and guides the implementation of the Na- 9/11 Commission Re-
tional Intelligence Program. The Director is assisted by a Senate- port—the official re-
confirmed deputy director. port about the Sept. 11th
terrorist attacks, why
The DNI position was created by the Intelligence Reform and they occurred, and what
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, in response to the 9/11 Commission should be done in the
Report. Prior to the creation of the DNI, the head of the intelligence future to prevent terror-
community was the Director of Central Intelligence. The 9/11 Commis- ism.
sion highlighted the need for major overhaul in the intelligence com- Intelligence commu-
munity, and the creation of the DNI resulted from this overhaul. nity—the group of in-
Prior to his nomination as DNI, McConnell served as Senior telligence agencies in
the U.S. government.
Vice President with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He was
also the Director of the National Security Agency, leading the organiza-
tion as it adapted to the multi-polar threats brought about by the end of
the Cold War. He also served as a member of the Director of Central
Intelligence senior leadership team and as the Intelligence Officer for
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense.
He holds a M.P.A. from George Washington University, is a graduate of
the National Defense University (Global Telecom), the National De-
fense Intelligence College (Strategic Intelligence), and holds a B.A. in
Economics from Furman University.
The DNI will mainly focus on the President’s initiatives to pre-
vent terrorism, working closely with other cabinet members such as the

Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland
Security. Together they will devise a plan to keep the country safe from
domestic and international threats. Under President Bush, the DNI will
also provide intelligence reports that would be useful in fighting the war
in Iraq, as well as information about securing America’s borders. By
law, the DNI is also a member of the National Security Council.

For Further Information:

The Director of National Intelligence should pay special attention to

these issues that will be discussed in Congress: Intelligence Reform,
Wiretapping, National IDs


Stephen Johnson holds cabinet rank as head of the Environ-

mental Protection Agency (EPA), an executive agency of that seeks to
protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment upon Natural environ-
which life depends by regulating and eliminating threats to the environ- ment—the air, water,
ment. As administrator of the agency, he must oversee its goals of: minerals, and organism
that populate the earth.
eliminating environmental health risks, enforcing federal environmental
laws, integrating environmental conservation into United States policies,
providing accurate information regarding the environment, and working
with other nations to protect the global environment. The underlying
purpose of the EPA is to make the air cleaner, the water purer, and the
land better protected through research, lobbying and educational efforts.
Johnson is a career civil servant. Prior to his appointment to the
Bush cabinet on May 2, 2005, Stephen Johnson served as Acting Ad-
ministrator, Deputy Administrator, and Acting Deputy Administrator.
He has been working in the EPA for over twenty-four years holding
multiple offices.
Generally speaking, the head of the EPA is at odds with big busi-
ness. Large corporations often find it more profitable to pollute than to
dispose of their materials in an environmentally friendly manner. Since
the Republican Party is generally friendly with corporate America, the
head of the EPA under Bush must strike a balance between enforcing
the law and maintaining a sound relationship with the business commu-

Further information:

The Director of the EPA should pay special attention to these issues that
will be discussed in Congress: CAFE standards, CO2 emissions


Carlos Gutierrez heads the Department of Commerce, which

seeks to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable develop-
ment, and improved living standards for the country. These goals are
pursued by fostering domestic and global trade and by encouraging
Minority-owned busi-
technological development. The Department of Commerce deals with a ness—a business that is
wide array of economic issues including international trade negotiations owned by a racial or
and U.S. participation in foreign markets, supporting minority-owned ethnic minority.
businesses, and patent distribution. Patent—an exclusive
Carlos Gutierrez oversees the Department of Commerce and is a right granted by the
key member of President Bush’s economic policy team. As a representa- government to an inven-
tor to manufacture a
tive of business in the government, he defends companies against unjust good.
policies, but also ensures that workers within these companies are given
fair treatment.
Before his appointment Gutierrez worked in the business sector,
rising through the corporate ranks to become CEO of Kellogg Com- CEO—chief executive
pany, a major US corporation. A Cuban immigrant, Gutierrez studied officer; the head of a
business administration and worked his way up through Kellogg after large company.
starting as sales associate.
Gutierrez is a life-long Republican. He is a dedicated supporter
of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and generally
is a trusted manager who executes the President’s policies. Since com-
merce includes a broad range of industries, Gutierrez works with a num-
ber of other cabinet officials to ensure that businesses receive protection
from the government, if need be.

Further information:

The Secretary of Commerce should pay special attention to these issues

that will be discussed in Congress: Foreign Takeovers, Taiwan Arms
Sales, Poverty Reduction


On November 8, 2006, following the midterm elections, Presi- Midterm elections—
dent Bush announced the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and nomi- elections for Congress
nated Robert M. Gates to replace him. Gates was confirmed by the Sen- that do not coincide
with a presidential elec-
ate in December 2006. The Secretary of Defense heads the Department tion year.
of Defense (DoD). The DoD directs and controls the armed forces, dis-
tributing military resources and developing policies that support of US

national security objectives. In times of war, the Secretary of Defense is
the second-highest commander of the US military, answering only to the
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Robert M. Gates is a graduate of the
College of William and Mary, Indiana University, and Georgetown Uni-
versity. Upon graduation, Gates began his 26 year career in the intelli-
gence agencies with a three year deployment in Vietnam. Gates rose
through the ranks of the CIA, eventually being nominated by George
H.W. Bush and confirmed as the Director of Central Intelligence, where
he served from 1991-1993.
As a civilian running the military bureaucracy, Mr. Gates will
bring a novel perspective to the position. He will not have the field ex-
perience that a military leader might have, but he will have a great sense
of how military endeavors affect American domestic policy. Lacking
direct experience himself, he will likely need to rely heavily on military
advisors in combat areas. By law, the Secretary of Defense is also a
member of the National Security Council.

Further information:

Secretary of Defense should pay special attention to the following issues

that are being discussed in Congress: Taiwan Arms Sales, Foreign Take-

Nominated in November 2004 by President Bush, Margaret
Spellings is slated to head the Department of Education, which was cre-
ated in 1980 to oversee federal government’s involvement in education
across the country. Although education has traditionally been an issue
determined by state governments, over the past 50 years, the federal
government has sought to ensure to equal access to education, to supple-
ment and complement the state funding, and to improve the quality of
education nationally. The Department promotes such improvements in
quality and usefulness of education through federally supported re-
search, evaluation and sharing of information.
Prior to her nomination for Secretary of Education, Margaret
Spellings served as the White House Assistant to the President for Do-
mestic Policy. As the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, Spellings
helped shape the news while staying out of it herself. Before her White
House appointment, Spellings worked for six years as Governor George
W. Bush's Senior Advisor with responsibility for developing and imple-

menting the Governor's education policy. Spellings was one of the prin-
cipal authors behind the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Spellings’ role is to ensure that the American education system
is up to par in a global environment. She works extensively with the
Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Housing
and Urban Development to determine policies that will result in a safe
and healthy school environment. Under President Bush, she must also
make sure that the No Child Left Behind Act is properly implemented
and reformed with the passage of time.

Further information:

Secretary of Education should pay special attention to the following is-

sues that are being discussed in Congress: Education Reform


Michael O. Leavitt heads the Department of Health and Human
Services, an executive department of the United States government that
works to protect the health and welfare of American citizens. The Secre-
tary of Health and Human Services must oversee the support of and pro-
tection of older Americans, infants and children, people with disabili-
ties, and the poor. Simultaneously, the department must maintain public
health in the United States by supporting medical research, regulating
foods and health care products, and fighting illegal drug use. Health and
Human Services is essentially responsible for a great deal of social sta-
bility and protection of fundamental human needs such as nourishment,
shelter, and medical attention.
Before leading the Department of Health and Human Services,
Leavitt led the Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to his appoint-
ment to the Bush cabinet, Mike Leavitt served as Governor of Utah and
was a national leader on homeland security, welfare reform and envi- W e l f a r e —
ronmental management. During his tenure as governor of Utah, Leavitt governmental aid to the
worked as a health-care innovator and welfare reformer, witnessing a poor.
decrease in the number of insured by 400,000.
The Republican Party generally considers social welfare to be a
private rather than government-run enterprise. The Secretary of Health
and Human Services must balance his desire to expand programs (and
thus improve quality of life for low-income, elderly, and disabled
Americans) with his desire to follow President Bush’s plan to not in-
crease government spending.

Further information:

Secretary of HHS should pay special attention to the following issues

that are being discussed in Congress: Human Trafficking, Immigration,
Education Reform


Michael Chertoff is Secretary of the recently created U.S. De-
partment of Homeland Security, which was established in response to
the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on
September 11, 2001. Chertoff oversees efforts to prevent terrorist ac-
tions in the US. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with
developing and coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive
national strategy to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond
to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States.
Chertoff must ensure that intelligence obtained by one agency —
evidence of a potential terrorist plot, for example — is disseminated to
other agencies; he must ensure vital facilities — such as government
buildings, airports, bridges, dams, electrical grids, water and food sup-
plies and nuclear power plants — are secure from possible terrorist at-
tack; finally he must ensure the United States is prepared to respond as
quickly and effectively as possible to any future terrorist attack, includ-
ing attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Chertoff must collabo- Weapons of mass de-
rate with many other departments to help ensure the nation’s security. struction—chemical,
biological, nuclear, or
One of President Bush’s main initiatives is the prevention of ter-
radiological weapons.
rorism, and Chertoff’s role as the Secretary of Homeland Security is
crucial in implementing these policies. He works with almost all mem-
bers in the Cabinet since this issue infiltrates many departments. For ex-
ample, he devises plans with the Secretary of Defense to determine how
conflicts abroad will affect the threat of terrorism at home, but he also
works with the Attorney General to establish adequate punishments for
terrorist offenders.

Further information:

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should pay attention

to the following Congressional issues: Border Fence and Immigration
Reform, Intelligence Reform

Elaine Chao heads the Department of Labor, an executive de-
partment of the United States federal government created by an act of
Congress in 1913 "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the
wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions
and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment." The Sec-
retary of Labor is the President’s chief advisor on labor issues.
Elaine Chao is the first Asian-American woman appointed to a
United States cabinet position. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of
Labor, Chao was a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a
public policy research and educational institute. Before that she served Affirmative action—
as the President and CEO of United Way of America – the nation’s larg- giving preference to
racial or ethnic minori-
est institution of private charitable giving. Chao opposed the Civil ties in an attempt to
Rights Act of 1991, which increased worker rights to sue for discrimina- right a historic inequal-
tion in the workplace, and she is against affirmative action. Chao also ity.
has no major experience working with labor unions. Labor u ni o n s —a
Labor relations are generally a very significant issue for busi- group of workers
nesses in America. As you will see in the guide to partisanship, the De- formed to advocate for
higher pay and in-
mocratic Party tends to be more supportive of labor unions than the Re-
creased benefits.
publican Party. With little union experience, Chao may be placed in a
new situation in dealing with these large American institutions.

Further information:

Secretary of Labor should pay attention to the following issues: Immi-

gration, Poverty Reduction, Education reform


On May 26, 2006, the United States Senate confirmed Rob Port-
man as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB),
and Mr. Portman was sworn in three days later. The OMB's chief mis-
sion is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal
budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies.
In helping to formulate the President's spending plans, OMB evaluates
the effectiveness of programs, policies, and procedures; assesses com-
peting funding demands among agencies; and sets funding priorities.
The OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed
legislation are consistent with the President's Budget and with Admini-
stration policies. OMB's role is to help improve administrative manage-
ment, to develop better performance measures and coordinating mecha-

nisms, and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the public. The direc-
tor of the OMB will be wary of any increase in government expenditure, Deficit—when the gov-
especially in a time of deficit. ernment spends more
Before assuming his position as the OMB Director, Portman was than it takes in through
a part of the President’s cabinet as the United States Trade Representa- taxes.
tive. Portman also served in the United States Congress as the Represen-
tative of the Second District of Ohio. In this capacity, Portman was a
Member of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the House
Budget Committee, and acted as a liaison between the House Leader- Liaison—a person
ship and the White House. charged with maintain-
With the government deficit increasing, Portman will have to ing communication be-
tween two groups.
ensure that spending for certain programs is not only required, but also
efficient. He will have to carefully analyze each department’s budget to
ensure that government expenditures are limited.


Nominated in November 2004, Condoleezza Rice is the head of
the State Department, which advises the president on foreign issues and
conducts relations with other countries. The Secretary of State conducts
negotiations, represents the United States internationally, and supervises
the Foreign Service bureaucracy. Of all the responsibilities of the State
Department, diplomacy is at the top of the list. The Secretary of State Diplomacy—the man-
must oversee this process of diplomacy, ensuring that the following oc- agement of relations
cur: management of diplomatic relations with other countries and inter- between states.
national institutions, promotion of peace and stability in regions of vital
interest, encouragement of dialogue between countries, and establish-
ment of stable political and economic environments in developing na-
Prior to her nomination, Condoleezza Rice served as the Presi-
dent’s National Security Advisor. Before serving as the National Secu-
rity Advisor, Rice served in the elder Bush’s administration as an expert
on Soviet and East European Affairs.
When approaching policy issues, the Secretary of State is closely
interested in how proposed policy will affect U.S. relations with other
nations. In issues of foreign trade, for example, the Secretary of State is
more likely than the Secretary of the Treasury to ask about how other
countries will respond to a proposed trade pact. Whereas the Secretary
of Health and Human Services will primarily worry about the domestic
cost of immigration, the Secretary of State will also consider how our
immigration policy affects our image abroad. By law, the Secretary of
State is also a member of the National Security Council.

Further information:

Secretary of State should pay attention to the following issues: US Arms

Sales to Taiwan, Foreign Takeovers, Immigration


Henry M. Paulson, Jr. heads the Department of the Treasury,
which is responsible for managing the finances of the government. The Finances—monetary
department seeks to promote prosperous and stable American and world resources.
economies, to manage the government's finances, and to safeguard our
financial systems. In addition to administering the Department of Treas-
ury, the Secretary acts as the principle economic advisor to the President
and plays a critical role in policy-making by bringing an economic and
government financial policy perspective to issues facing the govern-
ment. The Secretary of Treasury is responsible for formulating and rec- Public debt—the finan-
ommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax pol- cial obligation incurred
icy, participating in broad fiscal policies that have general significance by a state resulting
for the economy, and managing the public debt. from deficit spending.
The United States Senate unanimously confirmed Henry M. Unanimously—without
Paulson to the position of Secretary of Treasury on June 28, 2006. Be- dissent.
fore assuming this post, Paulson served as the Chairman and CEO of
Goldman Sachs, where he worked since 1974 in Investment Banking Goldman Sachs—a
Services. premier investment
Coming from the private sector, Paulson will have a unique per- bank.
spective on the Treasury. On Wall Street, he was motivated by financial
performance and the demands of investors in the open market. In Wash-
ington, he will serve at the president’s disposal and be subject to the
whims of politics. As necessary, the Attorney General will also partici-
pate in the discussions of the National

Secretary of Treasury should pay attention to the following issues: Pov-

erty Reduction, Foreign Takeovers


Joshua B. Bolten is a senior White House official of cabinet rank
Press—refers to the
with a great deal of power. As White House Chief of Staff, he oversees media. A press secre-
the White House employees and acts as a liaison to the president. He is tary manages the Presi-
present at a wide variety of meetings on policy, military, and logistical dent’s relationship with
matters. The latter includes issues regarding the press, public speeches the media.

by the president, and other issues of public image. He constantly works Public image—the way
with the Press Secretary and Directors of Communication to ensure that people perceive the
the White House projects a positive image and that it has the upper hand President.
in political dealings. The Chief of Staff must be knowledgeable, organ-
ized, and ready to speak about issues that are fundamental to the presi-
dent’s platform.
Before his appointment as chief of staff, Bolten served as the
Director of the Office of Management and Budget and as Assistant to
the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. From March 1999
through November 2000, he was Policy Director of the Bush-Cheney
presidential campaign.
Bolten’s role is crucial as the President’s top aid. He must not
only ensure that everything under the Bush administration is going
smoothly, but must also be frank with the President and make sure that
he knows about key issues that will effect his policies and his public im-
age. As necessary, the Attorney General will also participate in the dis-
cussions of the National


The Chief Political Strategist develops and coordinates political
strategy in the White House. The Chief Political Strategist is responsi- Strategy—plans.
ble for helping to determine which policies the White House should pur-
sue and developing recommendations for the administration’s agenda.
The Strategist also determines how and to whom the administration
should promote the policies. He or she devises political strategies to gar-
ner support for the policy proposals and helps members of the admini-
stration to develop their political strategies.
The Strategist’s recommendations should consider not only the
stance of The White House, but should also consider those of interest
groups and the public. The strategist should coordinate the use of politi-
cal persuasion and political capital to persuade Congress, interest
groups, and the public to support the White House’s policies. Finally,
the Chief Political Strategist should maintain favorable relations with as
many factions as possible in order to more effectively promote policies.
Very importantly, working with the Liaisons to Congress, the Chief Po-
litical Strategist will help to direct and coordinate the lobbying efforts of
the White House.
The Chief Political Strategist works to solidify the president’s
efforts to get his agenda through Congress. He makes use of all the re-
sources available in order to improve the president’s image and increase
his support among voters.

The Communications Director is charged with developing the
administration’s message and coordinating its distribution through vari-
ous forms of media. The message is the key theme or idea to be empha- Media—refers collec-
sized and sold to the public on any given issue or day. During the 2004 tively to the various
sources of news: TV,
Election, for instance, President Bush’s message centered on his efforts
newspaper, radio, etc.
against terrorism at home and abroad. The message should highlight
key priorities and present them in a favorable manner, and may also be Spin—the act of selec-
used to spin world events. The Communications Director will also coor- tively providing or
dinate the speechwriting process for the State of the Union Address. carefully interpreting
Speechwriters must remain ultimately devoted to executing clear and information with the
concise political persuasion that supports the oratorical style of the goal of favorably influ-
encing individuals
After determining the message for any given issue, situation, or State of the Union Ad-
day with White House staff, the Communications Director coordinates dress—a yearly speech
getting the word out. Everyone in the administration should be briefed by the President on the
general state of the
on key talking points so that they speak with one voice and present a country. This speech is
unified front to the public distribution channels include press briefings, watched by at least 50
speeches, and newspapers. The Communications Director should col- million people each
laborate with the Press Secretary, another key member of the communi- year.
cations team. Finally, the Communications Director is the administra-
tion’s liaison with news media, and should coordinate interviews.
Maintaining President Bush’s public image is crucial, especially
as his ratings fall due to some controversial policies at home and abroad.
The Director of Communications must do whatever she can to ensure
that the President’s initiatives are correctly portrayed in the media and
she must also constantly analyze public opinion polls to improve the
President’s image.


Serving essentially the same function, these liaisons work di-
rectly with members of the committees with which they work, their
staffs, and any key players in the policymaking arena. As you might
expect, the Liaison to the House works with House Members, the Liai-
son to the Senate works with Senators, and the Liaison to the NGA
works with governors. These lines are not absolute, however, and very
often, the three Liaisons will work closely in one united lobbying effort.
Without strong liaisons to other parts of government, the Presi-
dent will find it nearly impossible to enact any of his legislative priori-
ties. With the high levels of influence of the media, interest groups, and
other partisan groups, the Legislative Affairs Office is integral in pro-

tecting the President’s interests in the legislative arena. The head of
Legislative Affairs must maintain a strong bond with congressional
members and stay informed of their proceedings.
In order to ensure success in the legislative arena, liaisons must
undertake a number of tasks. The liaisons’ job is to monitor and influ-
ence the proceedings in Congressional committees and the NGA to re-
flect the president’s agenda. As a result, they will spend the majority of
their time in Congressional or NGA committees. They should identify
members in Congress who support the administration on key issues and
work with them to craft proposals and political strategies.
Liaisons should also identify those who present opposition and
choose the best way to deal with this opposition in conjunction with
other of the president’s staffers. This may include trying to persuade
congressmen to cross the aisle for various incentives, using the press to Aisle—in Congress,
discredit the opposition or work with other congressmen or fellow com- Democrats and Repub-
licans sit on different
mittee members to influence the opposition, bringing more people onto sides of the room, which
“your side’s team.” is divided by an aisle.
Finally liaisons should work to persuade members, often with ‘Crossing the aisle’
incentives to vote the party’s way. These might include a promise to means working with the
assist in re-election campaigns or assurances the President or will com- other party.
promise on another issue that would be important to the legislator’s con- Constituency—voters.
stituency. It might involve a direct appeal the Member’s constituency.
If the vote is particularly important, the President might be brought in to
make a direct appeal to the legislator, but this should be not be used fre-