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K Street Files: All Over but the Shoutin’

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and a prominent labor official expressed concern Tuesday about the tone of health care events around the country, where angry and often raucous crowds are greeting Members back home for the August recess.

[IMGCAP(1)]“Those who are causing this confusion and turmoil are doing so for political opportunism [and] putting — in many ways — the future of this great country and the future of millions of its citizens at risk,— United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “Those that are doing this to these town-hall meetings, filling them with lies and misinformation, are doing the people of this country a disservice.—

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and other Members continued to encounter hostile crowds at town-hall meetings Tuesday, as Democratic lawmakers attempt to make their pitch for health care reform during the district work period.

Casey, who sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, acknowledged that “this is a hard piece of legislation to pass and you’re going to have some hard feelings on both sides— but that disruptive behavior by some event-goers — allegedly planted by health care industry stakeholders and conservative activists — was not productive.

“We can’t allow some partisan or corporate special interests to prevent the exercise of free speech. Part of free speech is being able to hear and understand probing questions, and you can’t have that transpire when you have people screaming and shouting,— Casey said. “There’s no question that a good bit of this, if not most of it, is rooted in political conflict and political combat. We know that.—

He added: “In many cases, corporate or moneyed interests are trying to not just slow down legislation but stop it.—

But Casey on Tuesday also warned his fellow Democrats not to dismiss every dissenting voice during the events.

“I hope that the people on our side don’t jump to the conclusion that every bit of hostility or aggressive questioning is rooted in political strategy,— he said. “This is difficult and we’re all in an environment where tensions are pretty high but I believe by the end of this we will have had a full debate.—

NAFCU Continues Charge. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions isn’t taking August off from lobbying Capitol Hill.

While most of official Washington is focused on happenings in the hinterlands, the NAFCU is keeping up the fight to delay the implementation of a provision in the recently passed credit card bill that would require creditors to only be allowed to treat a payment as late if they have procedures in place that ensure that periodic statements have been mailed at least 21 days prior to the due date.

Credit unions are having a tough time meeting the Aug. 20 deadline because they have implemented consolidated statement systems for some of their credit offerings other than credit cards, according to a letter that the Consumer Federation of America sent Friday to Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Leonard Chanin at the Federal Reserve’s Consumer and Community Affairs Division at NAFCU’s request.

“CFA requests that you urge the Federal Reserve Board to consider allowing credit unions more time to meet this deadline for their open-end loans other than credit cards,— CFA Legislative Director Travis Plunkett said.

“We believe that the credit unions have identified legitimate implementation difficulties for a complicated and useful product that was not the primary focus of this requirement,— he added.

K Street Moves. Small Business Exporters Association President James Morrison is leaving the trade group to become director of Congressional affairs for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Morrison has been head of the SBEA, the oldest and largest nonprofit group focused on small- and medium-sized exporters, since 2001. In his new role, Morrison will coordinate OPIC’s federal relations with Congress, business organizations and other government agencies. OPIC is a federal agency that promotes economic development through private investments in growing markets.

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