Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today filed an amendment that would ban Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists. Bennet, who first introduced the measure to shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington in 2010, has committed to pushing for its passage until it becomes law.
"The spin of the revolving door is considered business as usual in Washington, which has lost touch with the rest of the country," Bennet said. "This amendment puts the power back into the hands of Coloradans and people around the country by eliminating the outsized sway of lobbyists for special interests. Banning members of Congress from lobbying when they leave Capitol Hill and closing the revolving door for Congressional staff are steps we can take to make Congress more responsive to the people and restore confidence in Washington."
The number of former members of Congress who are lobbing has increased nearly 50 percent since 1998. A study by the Center for Responsive Politics found that about 65 percent of former members of the 113th Congress who are currently employed are lobbying. In 2015, there were more than 11,000 registered federal lobbyists actively lobbying in Washington.
Bennet's amendment 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 describing those employees' job responsibilities; and
- Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
The 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 acting below board. It also provides the public greater with better information and takes an important step towards cleaning up the culture in Washington.
Click here for a summary of the amendment.
Bennet has proposed a number of reforms to change the way Washington does business, including a bipartisan proposal with Senator Cory Gardner to avert or quickly end a government shutdown by forcing Senators to stay in the Senate chamber if they shut down the government.