Sen. Merkley’s Amendment to NDAA Is a Huge Step Toward Strengthening Lobbying Restrictions

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

Note: Today, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) filed an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) extending the strong revolving door lobbying rules in effect for the Pentagon to the entire federal government. This comes on the heels of U.S. Defense Secretary and former Raytheon lobbyist Mike Esper failing to persuade Congress earlier this month to loosen these rules, which were established under the 2018 NDAA’s section 1045 by the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. Public Citizen helped defeat Esper’s rollback plan by bringing attention to it.

Today’s amendment by Sen. Merkley extends the stronger lobbying rules in effect for the Pentagon to the entire federal government. This is a huge step toward narrowing the revolving door that is wide open in Washington. Public Citizen advocated the 2018 rule that established tougher lobbying restrictions on the Pentagon and since then has worked to extend them more broadly. We applaud Merkley for championing this work to strengthen our democracy.

Corporate lobbyists should not be running the show – the people should. Government decision makers who take jobs in industry shouldn’t immediately turn around and lobby their former colleagues. This is a commonsense, bipartisan consensus among all Americans, despite what Secretary Esper or countless other officials that have swung through the revolving door may believe.