Chris Vest, CAE
Chris Vest, CAE, is director of public policy at ASAE.
With a new Trump administration, Congress may consider its congressional ethics while associations need to be aware of new lobbying policies.
President Donald Trump’s populist pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington could force the Republican-controlled Congress to review its own ethics rules this year.
During the presidential transition, Trump banned registered lobbyists from serving in the administration and instituted a five-year ban on executive branch officials who want to lobby after leaving the administration.
Trump has also called on Congress to put the same five-year ban on lobbying in place for lawmakers and their aides who leave Capitol Hill. Currently, senators have a two-year ban on lobbying Congress after they leave, while House members and senior congressional staff are banned from lobbying for one year.
Many lobbyists and congressional insiders have said that imposing a five-year “cooling off” period for congressional staff would deter people from taking jobs on the Hill in the first place, given that such a ban would limit their post-Hill employment options.
Trump has also said he would expand the definition of lobbying “so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisers when we all know they are lobbyists.”
Currently, individuals register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act if they make more than one contact per quarter with an elected official or the official’s staff, and if they spend more than 20 percent of their time on lobbying activities.
Trump’s proposals on lobbying go well beyond those of the Obama administration and could push congressional Republicans to decide if they feel the same way about the “swamp” as the now de facto head of the Republican Party.