Two bipartisan bills authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to improve the United States’ ability to prevent foreign governments from attempting to influence U.S. policy have passed the Senate. The bills would close existing loopholes that foreign governments, including adversaries like the Russian and Chinese governments, can exploit to conceal their roles in lobbying efforts.
“By providing more transparency about foreign lobbying practices, these bipartisan bills will help stop attempts by foreign adversaries to influence our political process and ensure that the federal government is working in the best interests of Michiganders and Americans,” said Senator Peters.
“The public ought to know if someone is using their lobbying disclosure to exempt themselves from registering as a foreign agent,” said Senator Grassley. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the American people deserve to know who is carrying water for a foreign power. I’m glad to see this bipartisan legislation move forward and hope to see it pass quickly in the House.”
The Lobbying Disclosure Improvement Act would improve transparency of the activities of lobbyists who represent foreign persons or organizations by requiring them to indicate whether they are taking advantage of an exemption under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) when they register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. This would help the Department of Justice narrow the pool of registrants they are examining for potential violations, while not imposing any meaningful additional burden on registrants.
The Disclosing Foreign Influence in Lobbying Act closes a loophole in the Lobbying Disclosure Act that foreign adversaries – including the Chinese government – can exploit to conceal their roles in lobbying efforts. Think tanks and law enforcement agencies have identified instances in which foreign adversaries exploited this loophole by using closely-connected organizations and businesses to push their interests when lobbying the U.S. government. The bill makes clear that lobbying organizations must disclose when foreign governments and political parties participate in their lobbying efforts, regardless of any financial contribution to the lobbying effort.