Rep. Gallagher’s Bill Would Block Former Lawmakers, Presidential Appointees From Lobbying for 5 Years

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
July 28, 2023Congress
Rep. Gallagher’s Bill Would Block Former Lawmakers, Presidential Appointees From Lobbying for 5 Years
Subcommittee chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) speaks during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation hearing about artificial intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 18, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Under a new bill, former members of Congress and presidential administrations would have to wait longer before they can turn around and lobby their former colleagues.

Current laws require members of Congress and executive branch appointees to wait at least two years before they can engage in certain lobbying practices. On Friday, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) reintroduced a bill (pdf), which he titled the “Serve The People, Not The Swamp Act,” that would expand this lobbying timeout period from two to five years for former members of Congress and former executive branch appointees.

Mr. Gallagher’s bill would also prevent lawmakers from recessing until they reach a concurrent resolution on a balanced budget for a given fiscal year. The bill would also eliminate a taxpayer-funded pension program for members of Congress.

The Wisconsin Republican has been seeking the five-year lobbying moratorium for several years now. Mr. Gallagher first introduced the “Serve The People, Not The Swamp Act” in 2019 and again in 2021. Neither of the two prior attempts to pass this legislation came to a vote.

Even before his 2019 effort to pass the lobbying moratorium, Mr. Gallagher had looked across the political aisle for support. In a 2017 USA Today column, he and progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) proposed the five-year lobbying moratorium. In their column, the two lawmakers also described the pattern of their former colleagues and executive branch appointees becoming lobbyists as a “revolving door” that leads policymakers to favor special interest groups.

Former lawmakers and executive branch employees can be highly effective lobbyists because they already have rapport and contact information for many of the people they’re trying to influence, including their former coworkers.

OpenSecrets has documented more than 400 instances of former senators and House members either registering as lobbyists or performing similar functions as advisors.

“Washington is broken. Unless we change the way this town works, the jerseys may change, but the results for the American people will be the same,” Mr. Gallagher said in a statement he shared with the Daily Caller.

Mr. Gallagher credited Republicans, who took control of the House earlier this year, with other measures to increase accountability, such as ending the COVID-19-era practice of allowing lawmakers to vote remotely.

“House Republicans have pushed back against the swamp by ending proxy voting and restoring accountability in Washington, and it’s time to build on this effort by changing the incentive structure for people serving at the highest levels of government,” he told the Daily Caller. “By ending taxpayer-funded pensions for members of Congress and imposing strict lobbying requirements on members of Congress and high-ranking government officials, these bills bring us one step closer to ensuring people in Washington are here to serve the American people, not the swamp.”

NTD News reached out to Mr. Gallagher’s office for further comment but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

Last week, Sens. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced a bill that would prohibit lawmakers, high-ranking executive branch employees and their spouses and dependents from buying and selling stocks. Lawmakers and executive branch officials have a unique advantage in the stock market because they can set laws and policies and are privy to other non-public information that can impact the economy. Both Senators described their bill as a way to prevent government officials from profiting off of such special knowledge.

“It is critical that the American people know that their elected leaders are putting the public first—not looking for ways to line their own pockets,” said Ms. Gillibrand.

“Politicians and civil servants shouldn’t spend their time day-trading and trying to make a profit at the expense of the American public, but that’s exactly what so many are doing,” Mr. Hawley added.

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