Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are planning to work together on a bill that seeks to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.
Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter to a report that 60 percent of federal lawmakers who left office this year have taken jobs lobbying or influencing federal policy by calling for a lifetime ban.
“If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check,” the freshman congresswoman wrote. “I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period.”
Cruz, a staunch conservative, agreed with the self-described Democratic Socialist.
“Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC,” he wrote. “Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”
“If you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down. Let’s make a deal,” Ocasio-Cortez replied. “If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc - just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists - then I’ll co-lead the bill with you.”
“You’re on,” Cruz replied.
AOC warns lobbying reform requires more pay for Congress:
“Keeping it real, the [elephant] in the room [with] passing a lobbying ban on members requires a nearly-impossible discussion about Congressional pay,” Ocasio-Corte wrote. “It is understandably unpopular to discuss giving Congress any raises or perks - & bc of that, there’s incentive to keep $ loopholes open.”
She explained that rules like those requiring lawmakers to pay for a second residence in Washington DC out of their own pocket “incentivizes loopholes.”
“There are plenty of examples. Another big one is spousal loopholes. They’re tough discussions & politically unpopular,” she wrote. “It’s one under-discussed side to cracking the nut of money in politics. Multi-millionaires can also weaponize these convos to their advantage, for cuts.”
Critics say lobbying reform not enough:
“The lifetime lobbying ban on former members proposed by @AOC and @tedcruz would need to be coupled with new disclosure rules to be effective,” wrote reporter Karl Evers-Hillstrom. “Of the 23 ex-members from last Congress to go to lobbying firms, only 2 have officially registered as lobbyists.”
“Under current law, a ban on revolving door lawmaker lobbying would just mean less of their post-Congress advocacy is disclosed,” warned The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay.
Others pointed out that similar bills have already been introduced.