WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate passed bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, 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. 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.
“Foreign influence in our nation’s political process presents a serious national security threat,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will shine a light on nefarious foreign lobbying practices and ensure that the government is working in the best interest of Americans and Michiganders – not our foreign adversaries.”
“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. “This bipartisan bill addresses a loophole that some people lobbying on behalf of a foreign interest have used to avoid registering as a foreign agent. The Senate’s unanimous vote sends a clear message that transparency is essential when it comes to foreign influence efforts.”
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.