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Draining the Swamp

Published in the Barefoot Tattler

Sometimes in Washington people forget that working in Congress, or in a federal agency, is first and foremost about serving your fellow Americans. In fact, today it’s pretty common for Members of Congress, staff members, and key federal government employees to use their service as a means to launch a lucrative lobbying career. This often results in bad public policy which impacts us all.

Last year we watched as President Trump animated supporters as he won the Presidency in part with his promise to “drain the swamp.” In that spirit, I have introduced several pieces of legislation that would take an important step toward fulfilling this promise, making Washington more accountable and transparent.

Extending the Lobbying Moratorium: It’s no secret that former Members of Congress and Congressional staff have extensive contacts in Washington along with hands on experience making public policy and working the legislative process. If you read disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s book Capitol Punishment, he details how he was able to build his sphere of influence in Washington partly by offering large salaries and other perks to entice people with government experience to come work for him.

In order to curb this kind of influence peddling and keep Members of Congress and staff focused on serving the American public, I reintroduced legislation to extend the lobbying moratorium on Members of Congress when they leave office to five years, and up to two years for senior staff and other employees of the legislative branch.

More Accountability for Lobbyists Representing Foreign Governments: Unbeknownst to many Americans, foreign governments will pay huge sums of money for access to policy makers in Washington. The more access and connections you have, the more a foreign government will pay. Building on my lobbying moratorium, I introduced legislation to prohibit former Members of Congress and senior staff who lobby on behalf of foreign governments from receiving any federal benefits resulting from their service in Congress.

Adding Transparency to the Federal Rulemaking Process: We know that the increased cost from regulations put heavier burdens on businesses as business owners spend more to comply with government red tape and less on hiring workers and rewarding pay increases. A U.S. Small Business Administration study indicated that annual regulatory compliance costs for small businesses can reach upwards of $10,000 per employee per year. In fact over a five year period, the amount of new and proposed regulations published by the federal government amounted to seven stacks above my head – over sixty linear feet. 

To combat this mountain of overregulation I recently proposed legislation to require all new federal rules to sunset after 3 years and subject them to an up or down vote in Congress.  My bill gives the elected representatives in Congress and the American people more input in deciding which regulations should be enacted and reauthorized. Additionally, I introduced legislation to make federal agencies comb through their regulations to eliminate old and ineffective rules before they can institute new ones.

Furthermore, I have launched efforts to depoliticize future special counsel investigations by prohibiting political donors from serving as investigators, require White House staff to sign up for Obamacare health insurance plans so our leaders can live under the same rules they make for the rest of us, and put the brakes on out of control government lawsuits. There is more to do to clean up Washington and I will continue to fight to make it more accountable and transparent.

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