WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to improve our nation’s ability to prevent foreign governments, including adversaries like the Chinese and Russian governments, from attempting to influence U.S. policy without making appropriate disclosures has advanced in the Senate. The legislation would help prevent lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments and political parties from exploiting an existing Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) provision that exempts Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants who are agents of foreign persons or organizations from registering under FARA. The bill was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where Peters serves as Chair, and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
“This bipartisan legislation will increase transparency around foreign lobbying and ensure our government is acting in the best interests of the American people – not foreign adversaries,” said Senator Peters. “Now that it has advanced in the Senate, I urge my colleagues to pass this bill as soon as possible so we can address the serious threat of foreign influence in our nation’s political process.”
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant when it comes to the people’s business. We ought to always push for the greatest transparency possible, especially when it involves those trying to influence policy in our country on behalf of a foreign power,” said Senator Grassley. “I’m glad to join Senator Peters in this legislation that will ensure we know if someone is using their lobbying disclosure to exempt themselves from registering as a foreign agent.”
The Lobbying Disclosure Improvement Act would require Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants to indicate, as part of their registration, whether they are taking advantage of the FARA exemption. This would help the Department of Justice narrow the pool of Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants they are examining for potential violations, while not imposing any meaningful additional burden on registrants.