About Federal Advocacy

NLC's Federal Advocacy team serves as the voice for America's cities and towns in Washington. Through federal advocacy and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, as well as grassroots outreach in hometowns nationwide, NLC achieves its mission of protecting municipal interests, seeking federal support for local investments, and influencing the outcome of federal policy debates affecting local governance.


The Federal Advocacy team is guided by three core principles, common themes that dictate NLC's federal agendas and outreach strategies:

Fund Federal Mandates

When requiring state and local activity in a given area, the federal government should provide adequate funds to address the fiscal impact of those policies. Federal policies should not mandate new costs for local governments without considering the increased financial liabilities and including reimbursement mechanisms to minimize disproportionate responsibilities.

Respect Local Authority

Activities such as franchising, zoning, issuing permits and licenses, and establishing local codes are fundamental responsibilities of local governments. Federal policies should respect these activities and not preempt local authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of local residents. Additionally, the federal government should defer to municipal authority regarding making fundamental employment decisions and mandating specific working conditions.

Promote Intergovernmental Partnership

A well-functioning intergovernmental system offers significant opportunities for all levels of government to serve the nation's citizens more effectively. Federal grant programs, regulatory requirements, funding formulas, and other practices should promote cooperation at the local and regional levels. The intergovernmental partnership must be strengthened to provide a framework for economic growth that also preserves important principles of freedom.

Armed with these principles and working in close collaboration with a number of stakeholders - including national organizations representing state and local governments, state municipal leagues, key federal agencies, members of Congress, senior Administration officials, and the federal court system - Federal Advocacy staff ensure that the local government perspective is considered in all federal policy decisions.

View NLC's current federal advocacy agenda.