But after a year of fly-ins, rallies, campaign contribution and lobbying fees, the defense industry and its allies in Congress and the Pentagon find themselves frustrated and largely helpless in the face of the first defense budget cuts since the 1990s.
At a recent rally in New Hampshire, the head of BAE’s electronic systems sector - Dan Gobel - likened sequester to a hurricane, adding that “its path is still somewhat unpredictable and its effects are being felt now before it even reaches us.”
Erin Moseley, the company’s chief lobbyist, said the challenges facing the industry amounted to “a perfect storm” that included the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, sequestration, the lack of a fiscal 2013 budget and polarized politics.
Many smaller companies in the sector have abandoned their lobbying efforts because they don’t see any resolution in sight, she added.
Jay Johnson, chief executive of General Dynamics Corp , last week told analysts that companies were doing what they could to prepare for leaner times until they got through the current “fog bank.”
TRADITIONAL ALLIES HAVE LESS CLOUT
Part of their dilemma -- also faced by lobbyists in other industries -- is that the whole game has changed with increasing polarization because they depended on members of Congress talking to each other and breaking down partisan barriers.
“How effective can lobbying be?” said one defense industry executive who asked not to be named. “There’s complete paralysis on the Hill right now. Normally you could talk to staffers, but they don’t seem to be in the loop on this stuff. Members aren’t talking to members. Congress isn’t talking to the White House and vice versa,” said an industry executive who asked not to be named.
Even committee chairmen in Congress can’t get much done when the House and Senate are in the hands of warring parties that refuse to compromise.