A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reintroduced legislation last week aimed at cracking down on foreign adversaries’ efforts to secretly influence U.S. policy. The “Disclosing Foreign Influence in Lobbying Act’’ was reintroduced in order to amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to clarify a provision relating to certain contents of registrations.

“If a foreign government or political party is trying to sway American policy, we ought to know about it. We’ve learned that the Chinese Communist Party has used other organizations as proxies to secretly push their agenda in the United States. This bill builds on existing lobbying and foreign agent laws to shine a light on that behavior so we know exactly where influence campaigns are coming from to ensure policy decisions are in the best interest of the American people,” Grassley said.

Federal lobbying law requires both lobbyists and the organizations that retain them to register their activities with the government. However, Senator Grassley’s office has noted that “think tanks and law enforcement agencies have identified schemes in which the Chinese Communist Party has used closely-connected organizations and businesses to push their interests when lobbying the U.S. government.”

The new legislation is an attempt to close perceived loopholes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Specifically, lawmakers have expressed concerns regarding U.S. companies effectively becoming proxies for unregistered foreign governments. “The Disclosing Foreign Influence in Lobbying Act makes clear that foreign governments and political parties that participate in the planning, supervision, direction or control of a lobbying effort must disclose their activity, regardless of any financial contribution to the lobbying effort,” Grassley said.

 

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