Bennet, Gardner, Franken Introduce Bill to Ban Members of Congress from Becoming Lobbyists

Would Close the Revolving Door of Lobbyist Influence in Washington

Washington, D.C. -U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (CO-D), Cory Gardner (CO-R), and Al Franken (MN-D) today introduced a bill to shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington by banning members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.

"Washington has become all too comfortable with the spin of the revolving door," Bennet said. "This bill puts power back into the hands of the Coloradans I came here to represent. By banning members of Congress from lobbying when they leave Capitol Hill, we can begin to restore confidence in our national politics. It's long past time to enact these common-sense reforms, and I look forward to working with Senators Gardner and Franken to advance these measures."

"Senator Bennet and I have been working together to bring the type of transparency and accountability to Washington that Coloradans expect and deserve," Gardner said. "I was happy to introduce this legislation with him to block members from Congress from becoming lobbyists after their time in office."

"We need to close the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying industry because our democracy can't function the way it's supposed to when well-connected special interests have more power than the American people," Franken said. "Our legislation would put in place much-needed reforms-by not only banning members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, but also by making the industry become more accountable and transparent."

The Center for Responsive Politics has found that about 51 percent of former members of the 113th Congress who are currently employed are employed at lobbying firms.

To change this trend of outsized lobbying influence, the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2017 would:

• Place a lifetime ban on current members of Congress from becoming lobbyists;
• Increase the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years;
• Ban lobbyists from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they lobbied for six years;
• Create a more accessible website for public reporting of lobbying activities;
• Require substantial lobbying entities to report on the non-lobbyist employees they have who are former members of Congress or former senior congressional staff, and describe those employees' job responsibilities; and
• Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

This bill improves disclosure requirements and promotes greater accountability. Through increased transparency, not just by federal lobbyists, but also by firms and companies that may have former members of Congress who are skirting the lobbyist line, the public will be better informed, and the lobbying profession will be deterred from undermining the common good.