What Won’t They Do Next?

By Caleb Levine, Intern at Unfold, Inc.

Image ©DonkeyHotey / CC-By Attr

Congress was not designed to get things done quickly or easily. A combination of factors, including conflicting agendas, archaic procedures, and the existence of the filibuster ensures that little gets done. Because of this, most effort expended to pass legislation is wasted, as opponents have a variety of tools to make sure that said legislation never sees the light of day. Even inconsequential pieces of legislation can get bogged down and defeated. Unfold’s probability rating shows the dim prospects of most bills submitted every session.

Looking at bills submitted to the Senate recently, it is difficult to find many that seem likely to pass. Many bills have probabilities in the single digits and almost none have a probability over 30%. Even seemingly innocuous bills, such as Senate Resolution 538, which would designate September 2016 as “National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month,” has only a 24% chance of passing. Senate Resolution 569, which would designate November 26, 2016 as “Small Business Saturday” and which has a whopping 39 sponsors across both sides of the aisle, has a similarly low 23% chance.

As you can imagine, more controversial bills are even less likely to pass. For instance, Unfold puts the probability of S. 2927, a bill which prevents retaliation against medical providers that refuse to provide abortion, at just 2%. This bill is sponsored by 18 Republicans in a Republican-Majority Senate and yet has almost no chance of passing.  Regardless of your views on abortion, it’s worth noting how much time and money went into submitting this bill and hundreds more like it which have effectively no chance of passage.

Now, in fairness to the 114th Congress, it is rare for much of anything to pass this late in an election year. However, this Congress has been remarkably unproductive during the last couple years — they passed a mere 244 bills over the course of their term. For comparison, the 95th Congress (1977-1979) passed 804 bills. In a time where so little is getting passed, putting your effort in the right place has become more vital than ever. This is where Unfold and other legislative data tracking services can be helpful. Knowing what is and is not worth your organization’s efforts can save valuable time, money and energy and allow you to retain those resources for better use elsewhere.

For more info on Unfold’s services please go to unfold.com.

30 under 30 Leaders of Tomorrow

Unfold is partnering with the Center for Development and Strategy on a number of initiatives supporting young leaders, policy-makers, and professional advocates. The following is a guest post from Sabrina Hyseni of CDS.

The business landscape is fundamentally changing due to increased competition, new economic models and dwindling resources. Thus, emerging future leaders should have a diverse background and a mindset of integration in order to adapt to a new world. This week, The Center for Development and Strategy launched their inaugural 30 under 30 Leaders of Tomorrow list. Through this program they recognize thirty young leaders from across the globe for their continued effort in creating a better society.

“The following individuals are proving themselves to be change-makers. They are entrepreneurs, scientists, policy-makers, activists, and academics. They have a lot more to learn, but are already applying their skills to the real world.” – David Harary, CDS Executive Director

While many other 30 under 30 awards recognize achievement in various fields, this list is quite unique as it showcases how this generation is bridging the gap between business, the environment and policy. Clearly they are poised to make a sustainable difference, and through reading the biographies three themes became quite evident as to what it means to be a CDS 30 under 30 Leader of Tomorrow.


A diverse array of experiences, both academic and professional, are a major theme showcased by the young leaders in this list. Many of them have studied in various fields yet their work is focused on the betterment of society, whether it is through policy, advocacy or business. The integration of different ideas to various fields is crucial for solving the complex problems the world is facing at the moment. These leaders have set their eyes on cleaning up the oceans, space advocacy, gender equality, education and climate justice yet taking different approaches towards the solution. It is imperative to have novel experiences in order to solve problems that have never been seen before.

Global Reach

The second theme emerging from this list is the global reach of their actions and agendas. As we continue to become more globalized through innovation and technology, leaders of the future should look to the entire world for inspiration. Future trends point to large numbers of migrant workers and refugees, international chemical management practices, large population shifts from rural to urban areas as well as climate change. All of these issues do not have any defined borders, or clear answers. Today they already affect the most vulnerable populations which is why future leaders should focus on the global effects of these issues in order to create local and international impact.


Lastly, passion and desire for change is the final theme emerging from this list of future sustainability leaders. They have traveled the world following what they are passionate about and have already started to create change at their age. Startups and non-profit founders are prevalent on the list but also activists, advocates and humanitarians whose desire to have a meaningful impact on the world has led them to where they are today.
In order to see the list and find out more about the Center for Development and Strategy please visit: www.thinkcds.org/leaders

Sabina Hyseni is the Consultant Intern at UNICEF and Director of Sustainability at CDS. She is currently a Candidate for a MSc in Sustainability Management at University of Toronto

State Legislative Trends

We recently sponsored a webinar in partnership with GAIN covering some of the major themes in state legislation and state ballot propositions as we close out 2016 and look ahead to 2017. We talked a bit about the growth of interest in RFRA and Recreational Marijuana, among several other topics. Check out the presentation!

State Legislative Trends, Fall 2016 [PDF].

Social Media Tips for Government Relations Professionals

Social media is, of course, crucial to stay top-of-mind for legislators, their staff, and your stakeholders. However, there are unique characteristics to the field of government relations that can derail your message if you’re not careful. Take a look at the three tips below to optimize your social media strategy.

Stay On Message

You want the key players in your policy sphere to know your brand for its timely and relevant material. Though a recent article about a political scandal might be interesting, you should stick to material related to your issue area(s).

When responding to questions or comments, be sure to engage as your organization or brand. Avoid taking a silly or flippant tone in the public policy space if you’d like to be taken seriously.

Target an Audience

To stay current on trends and topics, be sure to follow influencers, scholars and newsmakers in your policy area. The Members of Congress active in your issue areas and on relevant committees should especially be followed closely via social media. These are likely the people you want to eventually influence. You never know what information might spark a connection or come in handy during a meeting or networking event.

Also, follow or add your followers back when appropriate and make sure to respond to comments or mentions when appropriate. Online relationships are still relationships and nobody likes to feel ignored. However, avoid following spammers, creeps, and groups with whom you would not like to associate.

Engage to Grow

Make sure you are pushing material that is relevant to your stakeholders and not just policy wonks. If that means retooling scholarly articles and white papers into an easy-to-read blog post, then do it. You want engaged followers to easily spread your message. You can also use analytics tools to determine peak times to post and which types of post are most engaging.

Always remember: content is king. Instead of retweeting all day, try reframing content or third party links using apps like Buffer and by using your own hashtags or those that are popular with your followers.

Original video content is also powerful. Try creating a short 1-minute video of an expert in your industry speaking on one of your policy issues. Many people don’t have time to read long issue papers but can watch a quick video.

Nicholas Johns is the Director of Strategy for CDS

4 Tips for Government Relations Professionals


Written by Nicholas Johns
Director of Strategy, CDS
Published by Unfold, Aug. 9th 2016 

These tips are meant to be some key rules of thumb for people aspiring to work in, or who are just starting out in, the exciting and rewarding field of government relations. Cheers to your career on K Street!

1. Know Your Goals
When you finally get that meeting with the Member of Congress or staffer who you’ve been trying to lock down for what seems like forever, your job isn’t done yet.  You need to prepare for the meeting, knowing in advance what your major ‘asks’ are, whether it is co-sponsoring legislation, supporting a bill, or joining a caucus. As a corollary to that, you must absolutely know your organization’s policy positions, inside and out, and expect questions. Practice before hand if you need to. Nothing turns off a busy MoC or staffer more than someone who wastes their time.

2. Stay On Message
During your meeting, something might go astray. Someone may ask you a question you don’t know the answer to, you may meet a rude member/staffer, or the constituent you brought to the meeting may go on a tangent. Regardless, it’s your job to be calm and redirect the conversation to your policy points.  If you don’t know the answer to the question, let the person know you’ll check with your organization and get them the details ASAP. Take it as the perfect chance to follow up and show your follow through. If it’s a constituent, look for a chance to bring the conversation back to earth (and your ask/policy points). Whatever you do, you want to maintain a cool head and a positive attitude.

3. Know The Setting
If you work for a lobbying organization, chances are you will have the opportunity to attend many different events, including Hill events, happy hours, client dinners and even the occasional gala. You should always be cognizant of what setting you’re in and behave accordingly. For instance, if you’re in a Hill meeting, you should probably stick directly to your policy points and stray very little into personal matters. Conversely, if you’re attending an informal happy hour/reception, the ratio should be tilted the other way. Social events are a great way to meet new friends and contacts, and business generally should be secondary at that stage. The same goes for your attire. You don’t want your outfit to be a distraction to either yourself or with whomever you are networking. When in doubt, business/office attire is a safe bet, while more casual options may be appropriate when Congress is out of session.

4. Put Numbers On The Board
Your organization is in a panic. It looks like the legislative masterpiece your team has been working on for months is going to get shot down. What do you do in this situation? Is it time to fold up shop and move to Estonia? Probably not. This is why it’s important to keep running tabs on legislation or other options that still affect your stakeholders/clients/members. If you can substantively demonstrate you’ve been working hard on your main priorities then one setback will likely not sink your relationship with stakeholders. For instance, if your big tax cut bill goes belly-up, then maybe your work on repealing a smaller provision of the tax code through other means can get the spotlight. Small wins are always better than nothing.


The Center for Development and Strategy is an official partner of Unfold Inc.

Signed into law on July 29th


The following bills were enacted and signed into law by President Obama one week ago on July 29th.

H.R. 2607: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 7802 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, New York, as the “Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office
Introduced: June 2, 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph “Joe” Crowley [D-NY]

H.R. 3700: Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016
Introduced: October 7, 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer [R-MO]

H.R. 3931: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 620 Central Avenue Suite 1A in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, as the “Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown United States Post Office”.
Introduced: November 4, 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Bruce Westerman [R-AR]

H.R. 3953: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4122 Madison Street, Elfers, Florida, as the “Private First Class Felton Roger Fussell Memorial Post Office”.
Introduced: November 5, 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Gus Bilirakis [R-FL]

H.R. 4010: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 522 North Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona, as the “Ed Pastor Post Office”.
Introduced: November 16, 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Gallego [D-AZ]

H.R. 4747: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 6691 Church Street in Riverdale, Georgia, as the “Major Gregory E. Barney Post Office Building”.
Introduced: March 15, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. David Scott [D-GA]

H.R. 4761: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 61 South Baldwin Avenue in Sierra Madre, California, as the “Louis Van Iersel Post Office”.
Introduced: March 16, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Judy Chu [D-CA]

H.R. 4777: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1301 Alabama Avenue in Selma, Alabama as the “Amelia Boynton Robinson Post Office Building”.
Introduced: March 17, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Terri Sewell [D-AL]

H.R. 4877: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3130 Grants Lake Boulevard in Sugar Land, Texas, as the “LCpl Garrett W. Gamble, USMC Post Office Building”.
Introduced: March 23, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Pete Olson [R-TX]

H.R. 4904: MEGABYTE Act of 2016
Introduced: April 12, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Matthew Cartwright [D-PA]

H.R. 4925: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 229 West Main Cross Street, in Findlay, Ohio, as the “Michael Garver Oxley Memorial Post Office Building”.
Introduced: April 13, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Robert Latta [R-OH]

H.R. 4975: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 5720 South 142nd Street in Omaha, Nebraska, as the “Petty Officer 1st Class Caleb A. Nelson Post Office Building”.
Introduced: April 18, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Brad Ashford [D-NE]

H.R. 4987: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3957 2nd Avenue in Laurel Hill, Florida, as the “Sergeant First Class William ‘Kelly’ Lacey Post Office”.
Introduced: April 18, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL]

H.R. 5722: John F. Kennedy Centennial Commission Act
Introduced: July 11, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph Kennedy [D-MA]

S. 764: A bill to reauthorize and amend the National Sea Grant College Program Act, and for other purposes.
Introduced: March 17, 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Roger Wicker [R-MS]

S. 2893: Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2016
Introduced: April 28, 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Charles “Chuck” Grassley [R-IA]

S. 3055: Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016
Introduced: June 14, 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Richard Burr [R-NC]