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house Bill H.R. 1145

Banning Former Members of Congress From Lobbying Current Members of Congress

Argument in favor

Members of Congress need to put Americans first while they’re in office, and that task becomes difficult when they’re being lobbied by their former colleagues. This bill wisely bans former members of Congress from returning the Capitol as lobbyists.

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03/30/2019
Yes. Clean up the corruption and unethical practices. Further more, All Lobbying should be banned. Corporations want the Government to stay out of their businesses, We The People want Corporations to stay out of our Government!!
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burrkitty's Opinion
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03/30/2019
Moving from Congress to lobbyists is a clear conflict of interest. Congress isn’t supposed to be a pass-through stepping stone to lobbyists jobs.
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Cndrla's Opinion
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03/30/2019
I have a non compete as an employee of one of the largest health care corporations in the country. Not because it’s in my best interest. I have no choice or say in the manner. If it’s good for the corporation then it’s good for the gander. It’s a clear conflict of interest. CORRUPTION 🖕
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Argument opposed

When a lawmaker’s time serving their constituents in Congress comes to an end, they shouldn’t be prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues. It’s unfair to restrict their future employment opportunities, especially when they have specialized knowledge.

BoldlyGo's Opinion
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03/30/2019
This Bill does NOT go far enough! It Must Ban All Former Members of Congress From Lobbying Current Members of Congress⚖
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singinghawk926's Opinion
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03/30/2019
A nice idea, but unconstitutional. Any time we try to control an individual’s behavior we will run up against the First Amendment. If we can change the legal underpinnings of corporate personhood, we can utilize the ideas in this bill to control the corporations and profit-making institutions from using their greater financial power to undermine the will of the American people through influence in the halls of Congress. But interfering in the personal decisions of legislators is not the way to go. In the short term, lengthening the period between a legislator leaving Congress and their pursuing employment with lobbying firms seems more reasonable, since the Constitutional issues surrounding when a legislator can pursue a lobbying career have already been established by current law and precedent.
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Vijay's Opinion
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03/30/2019
This is a vague and incomplete bill. Former representatives and senators should be able to pass on their knowledge and expertise and give advice. But they should NOT be able to benefit or enrich themselves using that influence. Former representatives and senators and cabinet should be banned from all kinds of lobbying (need to define more clearly). Currently, most of our laws are being written by lobbyists and the Congress rubber stamps it. All the other lobbying should also be transparent and available for review by public
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What is House Bill H.R. 1145?

This bill — known as the BLAST Act — would prohibit former members of Congress from lobbying current members of Congress. It would take effect on the date of its enactment and apply to individuals who leave Congress on or after that date, meaning that former lawmakers who are already lobbying Congress at that time can continue to do so.

This bill would make lobbying punishable by a fine and up to a year in prison. If violations are willful, the penalty would increase to up to five years in prison.

The bill’s full title is the Banning Lobbying and Safeguarding Trust Act.

Impact

Former members of Congress; lobbying firms; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1145

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to prohibit former members of Congress from returning to the Capitol as lobbyists after they leave office:

“Hoosiers are tired of politicians putting their careers — present or future — ahead of the needs of their constituents. This bill is simple: you can never be a lobbyist after being a Representative or Senator. Congress must put Americans first, solve problems for Americans, and improve the lives of Americans.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the original cosponsor of an identical Senate bill introduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), adds

"Rather than serving the public, too many in Washington spend their political careers preparing for a lucrative job at a DC lobbying firm where they can cash in on their connections and their access. Congress should never serve as a training ground for future lobbyists, and putting an end to the revolving door is a common sense way to make Washington work for families.”

Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), says bills like this are often introduced at the start of new Congressional sessions

"You generally do see more of a reform agenda from some of the newer members that come into the Senate or into the House. We’re hoping some of their policies actually gain traction and can be supported in a bipartisan way. The public is tired of politics as usual.”

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment expert, believes a lifetime lobbying ban wouldn't survive legal challenges

“The First Amendment right to petition the government includes the right to talk to one’s representatives; and, as with the freedom of speech and of the press, that includes talking for money. A lifetime ban on such speech by former legislators would be unconstitutional.”

Rep. Hollingsworth counters that this bill wouldn't restrict free speech, as it doesn't ban calling legislators to express opinions as private citizens. He says, "[Former Members] can call [their] legislator just like any other constituent. It puts [them] on the same playing field and removes the incentive for [them] to do things in [their] public role only to benefit [their] next career.”

Former Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), who was a lobbyist before his appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, adds that this bill would deprive the public of well-informed experts who can put their expertise to use. He says, "If you cut all of that knowledge off, it would be a disservice to the country." Rep. Hollingsworth disagrees with Burris' position, saying, "I don't want lawmakers with a sufficient knowledge of how the system works pushing their own special interests."

Bruce Mehlman, of lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, argues that this bill could have unintended consequences, and isn't comprehensive

“The bigger challenge is that registered lobbying represents only a small part of the total spent on influencing government policy, and this proposed law would merely encourage even more ex-Members to avoid disclosure while serving as ‘senior advisors,’ ‘strategists’ or ‘consultants at law and PR firms."

There are no cosponsors of this bill in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, this bill had the support of one cosponsor in the House, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), and didn't receive a committee voteA Senate bill with the same provisions as this bill, also called the BLAST Act, has one cosponsor, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), in the current session of Congress.

Lifetime lobbying bans have been introduced by other members of Congress in the past, including by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2018, a bipartisan measure in 2017, Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) in 2015, and Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in 2014. Those efforts didn't gain traction, and then-House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-W) was opposed to even moderate proposals, such as lengthening the wait period to become lobbyists to five years for former House members. In January 2017, Ryan askedWhat if you want to become an advocate for the cancer society? What if you want, after you retired, to help your local hospital system and be on their board to support them and then go get legislation?”

Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit advocating better disclosure of corporate political activity, expects this bill to meet the same fate as past efforts to impose lifetime lobbying bans. Freed points out that any lawmakers who back this measure would be voting to block a route to lucrative post-Congressional employment for themselves.


Of Note: According to the Center for Responsive Politics in 2017, 434 former members of Congress have worked or currently work as lobbyists.

AKA

BLAST Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit former Members and elected officers of Congress from lobbying Congress at any time after leaving office.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedFebruary 11th, 2019
    Yes. Clean up the corruption and unethical practices. Further more, All Lobbying should be banned. Corporations want the Government to stay out of their businesses, We The People want Corporations to stay out of our Government!!
    Like (168)
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    Share
    This Bill does NOT go far enough! It Must Ban All Former Members of Congress From Lobbying Current Members of Congress⚖
    Like (98)
    Follow
    Share
    Moving from Congress to lobbyists is a clear conflict of interest. Congress isn’t supposed to be a pass-through stepping stone to lobbyists jobs.
    Like (81)
    Follow
    Share
    I have a non compete as an employee of one of the largest health care corporations in the country. Not because it’s in my best interest. I have no choice or say in the manner. If it’s good for the corporation then it’s good for the gander. It’s a clear conflict of interest. CORRUPTION 🖕
    Like (64)
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    All the doors to corruption should be sealed closed!
    Like (53)
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    Lobbyists are NOT interested in the public's best interests
    Like (38)
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    Lobbying as a paid profession should be ILLEGAL. Period.
    Like (35)
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    This bill also needs to put in a retroactive ban on former members of Congress from lobbying current members as well. This shouldn’t just apply on and after a certain date. All former members of Congress that are currently involved in lobbying need to stop now!
    Like (34)
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    If a Congressperson is elected out or decided to “retire” from congress it is usually because the voters no longer wanted that individual to represent them. With that said, why should they remain in Washington to continue to peddle the ideas that got them forced out in the first place?
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    Lobbying of all kinds needs to be made illegal (as does Citizens United)to all past and present members of the government. These people are public servants. We do not send them to Washington for 2,4, or six years so that they may be wined, dined and given gifts and essentially listen to commercials in order to get their next 2, 4, or 6 years in Washington paid for in full or part by lobbyists. To allow former public servants to lobby current public servants to me could almost be seen as a form of blackmail and should not be allowed. No lobbying should be allowed. If a group has something to say, they need to say it to their reps and then to the whole Congress.
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    👍🏻👍🏻 House Bill H.R. 1145 AKA “the BLAST Act “ 👍🏻👍🏻 I’m in full agreement with and recommend the passage of the House Bill H.R. 1145 AKA “the BLAST Act “ which would prohibit former members of Congress from lobbying current members of Congress. It would take effect on the date of its enactment and apply to individuals who leave Congress on or after that date, meaning that former lawmakers who are already lobbying Congress at that time can continue to do so. Members of Congress need to put Americans first while they’re in office, and that task becomes difficult when they’re being lobbied by their former colleagues. This bill wisely bans former members of Congress from returning the Capitol as lobbyists. SneakyPete.......... 👍🏻👍🏻HR-1145👍🏻👍🏻. 3*30*19..........
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    Politics is not supposed to be a career.
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    Corruption flourishes when former elected officials use their access to convince former colleagues to do what they are paid to promote by some of the most vile corporations and PACs. Knowing that lucrative lobbying positions will follow election encourages the worst profit-motivated candidates with no interest in the good of country nor constituents. Selfishness prevails.
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    We have to get rid of lobbyists altogether
    Like (18)
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    When a former legislator returns to civilian life, they should have no more influence on current legislators than normal civilians. Using their elected position to influence legislation is not fair to the rest of us.
    Like (17)
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    This would cut down on politicians who are focusing on money instead of their constituents.
    Like (17)
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    Abolish lobbying period.
    Like (16)
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    Should ban all
    Like (16)
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    all politicians should be banned from ever lobbying.
    Like (15)
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    This is one of very few things that Republicans AND Democrats can both agree on. And if Democrats and Republicans agree on something, you know it’s something the American people in general agree on. So, let’s get rid of Lobbyists, period. Not just any members of Congress that leave after a given date, but all Lobbyists! Then Congress will have much less temptation to be influenced by anyone but their constituents, whom they were elected to represent.
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