March 12, 2020 •

U.S. Capitol Limits Access to Public Over Virus Concerns

Starting today at 5 p.m. and ending on April 1 at 8 p.m., the public will have limited access to the United States Capitol because of concerns of the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Michael C. Stenger, the Sergeant […]

Starting today at 5 p.m. and ending on April 1 at 8 p.m., the public will have limited access to the United States Capitol because of concerns of the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Michael C. Stenger, the Sergeant at Arms of U.S. Senate, and Paul D. Irving, the Sergeant at Arms of U.S. House of Representatives, in consultation with the Office of the Attending Physician, issued a statement on March 12.

They stated the Capitol Visitor Center will close all tours of the Capitol and other congressional office buildings, including the House and Senate office buildings and the Capitol grounds.

“Lawmakers, staff, credentialed journalists and visitors with official business would still be allowed entry,” according to Reuters. 

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July 3, 2019 •

HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) Act Introduced in U.S. Congress

A bill meant to permanently ban former members of Congress from lobbying the U.S. Legislature was introduced in the House on June 21 by U.S. Representative Angie Craig. House Bill 3419, the HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) […]

A bill meant to permanently ban former members of Congress from lobbying the U.S. Legislature was introduced in the House on June 21 by U.S. Representative Angie Craig.

House Bill 3419, the HUMBLE (Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination) Act, would prohibit former Members and elected officers of Congress from lobbying Congress at any time after leaving office.

The legislation also prohibits Members of the House of Representatives from owning individual stocks while in office.

Additionally, the bill prohibits use of government funds for first-class airline accommodations.

The bill also eliminates certain benefits currently available to former members of the House, such as access to parking, athletic facilities, and the House members’ dining room.

“A lifetime ban on lobbying will ensure that Congress is no longer a revolving door of influence, and banning individual stock ownership will cut down on conflicts of interest and show that Congress has its priorities straight so that we can advocate for policies that will improve lives and expand economic opportunity for every Minnesotan,” said Craig in her press release.

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November 1, 2017 •

Legislation Introduced in U.S. Congress to Strengthen FARA Enforcement

On October 31, identical bills were introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress to strengthen the laws and penalties concerning lobbyists serving as the agents of foreign principals. Senate Bill 2039 and House Bill 4170 amend the Foreign Agents […]

On October 31, identical bills were introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress to strengthen the laws and penalties concerning lobbyists serving as the agents of foreign principals.

Senate Bill 2039 and House Bill 4170 amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) in order to provide the U.S. Attorney General with greater authority to investigate alleged violations of FARA and bring increased criminal and civil actions against persons committing such violations.

If the legislation passes, an exemption from registering and filing disclosure reports under FARA established in Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 would be eliminated. Additionally, the Department of Justice would be empowered to demand documents and testimony when investigating alleged violations of compliance.

The pair of bills were introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Mike Johnson.

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May 8, 2017 •

US Spending Bill Has Campaign Finance Provisions

Among the amendments in the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed into law on May 5 are two provisions affecting campaign financing. House Resolution 244 explicitly prohibits the Internal Revenue Service from making new rules concerning the political speech or […]

Among the amendments in the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed into law on May 5 are two provisions affecting campaign financing.

House Resolution 244 explicitly prohibits the Internal Revenue Service from making new rules concerning the political speech or activity of 501(c)(4) organizations. The legislation also prohibits the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing, issuing, or implementing any rule, regulation, or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations, or dues paid to trade associations.

The 708 page omnibus spending bill, passed by Congress on May 4 and signed by the president on May 5, funds the U.S. government through September 30.

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July 2, 2014 •

House Members Do Not Have to Report Privately Sponsored Travel to Ethics Committee

Without any official announcement, the U.S. House Ethics Committee quietly removed the requirement that privately sponsored travel be revealed in House Members’ annual financial disclosure forms. However, when the removal of this requirement was revealed by the National Journal on […]

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

Without any official announcement, the U.S. House Ethics Committee quietly removed the requirement that privately sponsored travel be revealed in House Members’ annual financial disclosure forms.

However, when the removal of this requirement was revealed by the National Journal on June 30, it caught national attention and generated strong responses. In a press release from the Campaign Legal Center, Policy Director Meredith McGehee said, “With public confidence in the U.S. Congress reaching a record low of 7%, according to yesterday’s Gallup poll, you would think the House Ethics Committee would focus on building public confidence in the institution, rather than looking for ways to make their dirty laundry harder to find.”

According to the National Journal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the change “must be reversed.”

Supporters of the change argue the reporting is merely duplicative because the travel must still be reported by members to the House Office of the Clerk.

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