Major lobbying ban inserted into House spending legislation

A major lobbying ban was successfully inserted into the 2013 Financial Services spending bill during a Wednesday markup. 

Under the ban, former members of Congress and the administration would not be allowed to lobby on behalf of certain foreign governments, including China, for the first 10 years after they leave office.

The ban applies to ambassadors, the president, vice president, senior political appointees and senior intelligence officials, including CIA station chiefs.

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The ban applies to countries that are listed by the State Department as suppressing religious freedom, along with any entities connected to those governments. The countries currently on that list include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) authored the amendment, which was approved by voice vote. The Financial Services bill now heads to the House floor for a vote. 

His office said that Wolf is concerned about lobbying on behalf of Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE. Huawei leadership has ties to the Chinese army, and has been barred from making certain investments in the United States.

Wolf said he was especially outraged by a former U.S. spy lobbying for Burma. 

“For those who hold such prominent positions in government service, we must set a high standard to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Wolf said in a statement.

The leading Washington association of lobbyists said it opposes the ban.

"We oppose any change which imposes additional restrictions on former members of Congress, ambassadors and others from representing certain foreign governments, no matter how reprehensible the leadership of those countries may be," said Howard Marlowe, the president of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL).

Marlowe said that the Foreign Agents Registration Act "contains full disclosure requirements that are very strict and that are effectively enforced. That transparency gives the public ample notice of anyone who represents a foreign government or any foreign company or other entity."

— This story was updated at 3:06 p.m.