FIRST IN PI — BROWNSTEIN LAUNCHES PRACTICE TO HELP CLIENTS NAVIGATE INFRASTRUCTURE LAW: K Street’s top lobbying firm is the latest to form a dedicated practice to help clients access the hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending unlocked as a result of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill or otherwise navigate and shape the law’s implementation.
— The new practice group from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck will be led by Mark Begich, a former senator and Anchorage mayor, and also comprises Brownstein’s Geoff Burr, Marc Lampkin, Doug Friednash, Bill McGrath, Nadeam Elshami, Jon Hrobsky, Steve Demby, Kate Gonzales, Luke Johnson, Jessica Kramer, Sarah Mercer, Bella Wolitz and Jason Buckner, with an emphasis on bipartisanship and experience at various levels and sides of government.
— “We get calls on a regular basis about folks trying to understand what’s happening because it is not just the traditional infrastructure,” Begich told PI in an interview. “As you know, with that bill, there’s a whole new array of opportunities that I think people are still trying to figure out what it all means, as well as the administration putting together their implementation package.”
— With the Energy Department in particular tasked with implementing a slew of new programs, and the Transportation Department set to stand up new climate-related programs, Begich said, clients in both the public and private sector have raised questions on issues ranging from who the point person will be on given initiatives to the details of how money for projects will be doled out and how rules or grant requests should be formulated to navigate new and emerging technologies.
— “That, to me, is where we play a very significant role because of our knowledge of the system,” Begich said of weighing in on programs that clients oppose. Then, it’s a matter of “‘let’s go find the guys that write these things so they have at least some conversation.’ You can’t influence the outcome, but … let’s make sure they know how this program could or not be implemented properly if they don’t write the rules to give the greatest flexibility,” he added.
— Begich also praised the White House’s point man for implementing the law, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “He understands, you know, what it takes to you know, get a bid on the street [that’s] competitive and get a value for it,” Begich said. It also helps that typically as a mayor, he argued, one understands “what I call the DOT morass of rules.”