lobbying

Israel bars entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
Trump said Netanyahu would ‘show weakness’ by allowing House members to visit

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib had planned to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories along with Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A planned trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories by Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has been halted by Israeli officials.

“The state of Israel respects the U.S. Congress, as part of the close alliance, but it is inconceivable that anyone who wishes to harm the state of Israel will be allowed, even during the visit,” a media statement from the government read.

Republicans cast about on guns, Trump’s rhetoric at town halls
August recess is typically a low-profile time for members of Congress, but tensions running high this week

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., withheld on whether he supports expanding background checks at his town hall this week - saying he would have to see the details. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An agonizing national conversation about gun violence and race reverberated in members of Congress’ town halls across the country this week. 

“I totally disagree with the characterization that Trump is racist,” said Republican Rep. Don Bacon to a smattering of applause from a small audience in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. “When you call the president a racist ... you're turning away half the population.”

‘Come back ... immediately’: Democrats call for special session in aftermath of mass shootings
There has be no sign that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to change the schedule.

From right, Connecticut Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy attend an event with lawmakers and victims to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention in 2018. Corey Taylor, who was killed in a 2013 Texas shooting, appears in a photo at left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in the Senate have steadily called for a special session to address gun violence after a spate of deaths by assailants armed with assault weapons.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an end to the Senate's August recess after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio claimed more than two dozen lives. 

Democrats say support for new NAFTA depends on Trump
Trump administration will have to offer House Democrats some changes

Democratic working group on trade is led by House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional action on the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact to replace the NAFTA agreement will depend on whether the Trump administration offers House Democrats changes that will achieve “substantial and real” improvements to the agreement, a trade working group said in a report to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is time for the administration to present its proposals and to show its commitment to passing the new NAFTA and delivering on its own promises,” the group of Democrats wrote.

Trade Office works through tariff exclusions as requests mount
Rejection rate on the 10,829 exclusion requests on first tranche of imports was 62 percent

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has processed approximately 700 requests for exclusions on the first $34 billion tranche of imports. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Trade Representative’s process for doling out exclusions to Section 301 tariffs on imports from China has slowed to a painful crawl.

Only approximately 700 requests for exclusions on the first $34 billion tranche of imports were decided over the past month, with half of those denied over concerns that product characteristics were not sufficiently narrow to prevent unrelated products from slipping through customs. The overall rejection rate on the 10,829 exclusion requests on the tranche increased to 62 percent.

Report: Former members used ‘zombie campaign’ funds in lobbying for foreign interests
Members turned lobbyists used dormant campaign funds to make donations to the legislators they lobbied on behalf of foreign clients

Then-Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., left, and Michael Michaud, D-Maine, talk before a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in 2012. The men have pursued very different post-Washington careers: Miller now lobbies for Qatar. Michaud ran for town selectman in Maine last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress who depart Capitol Hill for a lobbying job have a few advantages: deep knowledge of legislative inner workings, rapport with former colleagues and sometimes, according to a new report, a chest of leftover campaign money.

At least 17 former lawmakers lobbying for foreign governments or foreign political parties maintain dormant campaign accounts — so-called “zombie campaigns,” according to a report published Friday by the Campaign Legal Center. And about half of them have used funds from those campaigns to make donations to the same legislators they lobby on behalf of foreign clients. 

Health care law supporters launch August tour
Route will include states where Republican senators face competitive reelection races

Advocacy group hopes to draw a contrast between Democrats, whose health care plans focus on increasing affordability and coverage, with the Trump administration and Republicans, who oppose the 2010 health law (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 An advocacy group that supports the 2010 health law will launch a national tour next month with the hope of carrying its success from last year’s campaigns into the 2020 election cycle.

Protect Our Care, a group formed to defend the law, plans at least 22 events in August across the country, according to information first shared exclusively with CQ Roll Call.

Amazon, Facebook up their K Street spending; other players dip

Facebook spent the most in its history on lobbying in this year’s second quarter. Above, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House hearing in April of last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tech powerhouses Facebook and Amazon spent the most in their histories on lobbying in this year’s second quarter, propelling them into the top tier of K Street spenders, while other big players reported a decline in their lobbying investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long the dominant big spender, continued its reign, despite recent turmoil in staffing and a leadership change that has raised questions about the organization’s future. The chamber, drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and Northrop Grumman reported a dip in spending in the second quarter when compared with the first three months of the year, according to just filed lobbying reports.

Remember John Ensign? He just got divorced from wife of three decades
Former Nevada senator resigned in 2011, facing threat of expulsion over cover-up of affair

Former Sen. John Ensign finalized a divorce last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. John Ensign, who resigned from the Senate in 2011 while facing the possibility of expulsion, has divorced his wife after more than three decades, bringing up memories of a sordid affair that reached as far as the FBI and FEC. 

Ensign, a Republican from Nevada who returned to his veterinary practice after leaving the Senate, had been involved in an extra-marital affair with a staffer of his who was married to his chief of staff, and went to such great lengths to try to hide it that the Ethics panel came to believe he had violated federal civil and criminal law. The FBI and FEC began probes of Ensign, but then either dropped their investigations or dismissed complaints. 

Drug price transparency prompts fight among Democrats
Dispute is partly a turf battle between two committees who want to produce legislation on a high-profile issue

Consumer advocates clearly prefer a measure offered in the the Energy and Commerce Committee by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A dispute among Democrats over competing drug price transparency bills is complicating an issue that should have been one of the least controversial parts of the congressional effort to lower health care costs.

Two panels that oversee health care issues each approved measures this year to require drug companies to reveal information when they increase prices. While consumer advocates note drawbacks with both, they clearly prefer a measure from the Energy and Commerce Committee by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, over a similar Ways and Means Committee bill.