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Checks and Balance: This summer's conventions may be a bit unconventional
Some lobbyists aren’t entirely convinced the show is worth the investment

The Clintons and Kaines gather on stage as balloons drop at the end of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | The quadrennial political conventions, where the party faithful publicly coalesce in cheerleading for their respective White House picks, play a lesser-known role — as sleep-away camp for K Street.

Away from the convention’s main stage, K Streeters are booking concert halls, hotel ballrooms and chic restaurants in the host cities for brunches, receptions and late-night, booze-infused concerts to fete their favorite politicians and bring them together with the corporate clients they represent.

Big business, tech, health care lead K Street spending in 2019
Spending was highest in fourth quarter as Congress passed budget bills and updated NAFTA

Lobbyists say they’re looking at a post-impeachment crunch on major legislative priorities this year before the elections consume lawmakers’ attentions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Big business, big tech and medical interests were K Street’s top players last year as those industries spent millions of dollars on federal lobbying in the final months of 2019, while lawmakers and the administration wrapped up spending and trade measures.

With the 2020 elections expected to consume lawmakers’ attention this summer and fall, lobbyists say they’re looking at a post-impeachment crunch on major 2020 priorities. Some clients already are gaming out a possible lame-duck session as well as a potentially revamped federal government in 2021.

Pelosi: Facebook’s behavior is ‘shameful’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on January 9, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Big business lobby to push trade, data, immigration in 2020
Despite impeachment, the chamber believes Congress and the Trump administration still may seek compromise on major matters

US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue speaks at US Chamber of Commerce in Washington. The top spender on federal lobbying plans to push for a full agenda this year that includes free trade, data privacy and immigration overhaul. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Noting the “extraordinary time” of political turmoil and impeachment running alongside the 2020 campaigns, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue nevertheless said his group, the top spender on federal lobbying, would push for a full agenda this year that includes free trade, data privacy and immigration overhaul.

Even with the expected legislative stalemate of a presidential election year, he said the chamber believed Congress and the Trump administration still may seek compromise on major matters, including funding for infrastructure projects.

Census estimates: Redistricting ahead for California, New York and Texas
Projections suggest AZ, CO, FL, MT, NC, OR and TX could gain seats

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, speaks at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Census Bureau gave a peek at a coming battle within states nationwide over the shape of the country’s congressional district map, with its latest population estimates hinting at fights within Texas, New York, California, Alabama and other states.

Those estimates give demographers and mapmakers the last hint of how the 2020 census will divvy up 435 congressional seats nationwide before the agency releases the official results later this year. The results will determine winners and losers for both the distribution of the districts as well as $1.5 trillion in federal funds each year.

Census effort gets $7.6 billion funding, ‘friended’ by Facebook
Spending bill passed on same day Facebook pledges to remove false census posts, ads

Facebook announced it would remove misleading 2020 census information from its platform. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Census Bureau got a slew of new tools Thursday in preparation for next year’s census count, making congressional allies and advocates cautiously optimistic about the effort. 

The same day Congress sent the White House a sweeping spending package that includes $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau, Facebook announced it would remove incorrect or misleading census information from its platform next year. The social media giant’s announcement follows steps by Google and the Census Bureau itself to keep online outreach efforts on track for the 2020 count.

The swamp successfully boils and bubbles in 2019
Lobbying clients took some losses, but corporate interests will end the year largely unscathed

K Street experienced some notable fails in 2019, as well as some big wins. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

K Street lobbying clients racked up some notable defeats this year: No return of earmarks. Drugmakers lost out in a new trade deal. And that mega-infrastructure package? Never happened.

But despite jitters over divided government and impeachment theatrics, corporate interests will exit year three of the Trump era largely unscathed, and some are downright giddy as they head into the potentially fraught 2020 campaign season.

Fintech Beat sits down for a one-on-one with Maxine Waters
Fintech Beat podcast, Ep. 31

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., departs from a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

‘A real gift to Big Tech’: Both parties object to immunity provision in USMCA
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act hotly debated on the Hill this year

A chapter of the trade agreement based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter immunity from liability for user content posted on their sites. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Technology companies scored a win last week when provisions giving them broad immunity from lawsuits over third-party content on their platforms were included in a draft trade agreement with Canada and Mexico despite staunch opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.

The inclusion of the provisions in the proposed trade agreement is notable because the 1996 law on which they’re based has been the topic of heated debate on Capitol Hill this year, with prominent members of both parties arguing that the United States should not set up protections for technology companies operating abroad when those protections at home could be altered or done away with by Congress in the near future.

Rules, privacy issues loom for fintech industry in 2020
Advocates foresee sparse congressional activity for 2020

Facebook changed the fintech industry's focus this year when the social media giant announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The nascent financial technology industry started the year faintly optimistic that the 116th Congress would pass bills in its favor. But as 2019 comes to an end without legislation, the industry isn’t even expecting action in 2020. And for that, they’re feeling relieved, not disappointed.

Facebook Inc.’s midyear announcement that it planned to launch a cryptocurrency, Libra, upended the industry’s focus, tilting the legislative strategy from pressing hard for beneficial bills to staying clear of measures aimed at checking the social media giant’s ambitions to transform commerce.