Clogging the Swamp

In contrast to a previous LobbyBlog post, the Boston Globe reported that lobbying numbers have been declining due to “the slow pace of legislation, stiffer rules, and a gradual decline in the number of lobbyists.” The number of registered lobbyists has declined, and so has spending from special interest groups. “There were 9,791 registered lobbyists at the end of June, the fewest since 2008, according to a Globe review of the last decade of lobbying data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.”

While lobbying numbers are down, it is much more surprising that overall spending by special-interest groups has not increased. Dan Auble, a senior researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics said, “it’s surprising. Everyone expects when there’s a change in party and agenda- and claims of changing a lot of policies- that it’s a huge opportunity for companies and industries.” Most special-interest groups and large companies realize that Washington is dysfunctional right now, so they would prefer not to waste money on causes where there is no movement on the Hill.

Further, lobbyists believe that the Trump administration has “given them little to lobby over.” For example, the health care bill was negotiated privately. Therefore, lobbyists did not have the opportunity to influence lawmakers. President Obama also cracked down on hiring lobbyists to preserve institutional integrity, and those rule changes affect lobbying today. These new rules created an “incentive [for lobbyists] to avoid registering in the first place.” In addition to their lack of registration, lobbyists are changing their focus from energy and natural resources to health care and business- both of which have increased since 2009.

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