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Committee Swaps Out Lobbying Restrictions

May 17, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In todays markup of two ethics bills, the House Judiciary Committee swapped out a provision to double the current one-year ban on ex-lawmakers taking lobbying jobs right out of Congress in favor of a bill to require bundling disclosure.

From subscription-only Congress Daily:

>During a markup, Judiciary Chairman Conyers (pictured at right) offered a manager’s amendment to a comprehensive lobbying and disclosure bill [H.R.2316] that would keep the one-year “cooling off” period that prohibits former members from directly lobbying former colleagues. Most of the resistance for a two-year moratorium, which affected both members and senior staff, had come from House incumbents, many of whom are likely to consider K Street jobs after Congress. Conyers said he made the change after hearing concerns that members would have difficulty hiring “top flight staff” if a longer period was put into place. “I’ve discussed this issue with numerous members on both sides of the aisle,” Conyers said. Government watchdog lobbyists characterized the committee’s decision to scrap a two-year moratorium as the price for swift passage of separate bundling language.

The bundling language was approved in a separate bill, H.R.2317, which will be proposed as an amendment to H.R.2316 on the House floor. Bundling is a lobbying technique wherein contributions are collected from individual donors by a lobbyist and then given to a lawmaker as a lump sum. According to current rules, disclosure of the lobbyist-bundler’s identity is not required, only the names of the individual donors. H.R.2317 would change the rule to require disclosure of any lobbyist using the bundling technique.

Both the bundling requirement and the two-year moratorium will have to fight an uphill battle on the House floor if they are to be included as part of the overall comprehensive lobbying reform bill, H.R. 2316. The bill is expected on the House floor next week.

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