Tester, Bennet, Gardner Bill Bans Members of Congress from Becoming Lobbyists

Bipartisan legislation aims to close revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington

Aiming to shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) today reintroduced legislation banning members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.

“Truly draining the swamp means pulling the plug on politicians trying to cash in on their public service,” Tester said. “This bill is simple—it bans members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, ensuring we’re 100 percent committed to the folks we represent, not special interests.”

“Americans should be confident that their elected leaders go to Washington to represent them, not to audition for high-paying lobbying jobs for special interests,” Bennet said. “We have been careless with the American people’s trust in our democracy, and this reform would go a long way toward restoring it. For the privilege of serving in the United States Congress, members should accept a ban on lobbying.”

“I’m proud to work with Senator Bennet and Senator Tester to restore faith in government and ensure elected leaders are truly serving the people they represent,” Gardner said. “By blocking Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists following their time in office, this legislation will bring the transparency and accountability to elected officials that Coloradans expect and deserve.”

The Center for Responsive Politics has found that, of all former members of the 115th Congress now working, 50 percent are employed by lobbying firms.

To help restore public confidence in government, the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2019 would:

  • Ban current members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists;
  • Increase the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years;
  • Ban lobbyists from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they have lobbied for six years;
  • Create a more accessible website for public reporting of lobbying activities;
  • Require substantial lobbying entities to report on the non-lobbyist employees they have who are former members of Congress or former senior congressional staff, and describe those employees’ job responsibilities; and
  • Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

A longtime advocate for government transparency and accountability, Tester is the founder and Chairman of the Senate Transparency Caucus and strongly supports closing the revolving door between the government and lobbying firms.

Earlier this year he reintroduced the Spotlight Act, a bill to shine a light on dark money political donors and require the Trump Administration to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws. And in September of 2018, Tester’s bill requiring Senate candidates to electronically file their campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission was signed into law.

The bill text is available HERE.