Uber tripled its lobbying efforts in 2016

Uber tripled its lobbying efforts in 2016

Uber nearly tripled its federal lobbying efforts in 2016 compared with the previous year, reaching an all-time high of more than $1 million.

In the last three months of 2016, the ride-hailing firm spent $390,000 on lobbying, according to disclosure forms. That figure brings Uber’s total federal lobbying spending to $1.36 million for 2016, which is $890,000 more than it spent in 2015.

In 2014 and 2013, Uber spent just $200,000 and $50,000, respectively.

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The company is still considered a relative newcomer to the tech scene, and its federal lobbying pales in comparison to other tech giants such as Google and Amazon.

But Uber has rapidly ramped up its work in Washington under the watch of Niki Christoff, a former Republican campaign operative who previously held high-level positions at Google.

The increased lobbying comes as the ride-hailing firm engages in the debate over self-driving cars. Uber began testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh last year, though it had to end a similar experiment in San Francisco because it lacked the necessary state permit required for autonomous driving.

So far, Uber’s federal lobbying efforts have mainly focused on smaller measures and modernizing existing laws. The company’s big federal victory last year was working directly with lawmakers to get language attached to a national defense authorization bill aimed at allowing Uber and other ride-hailing services access to military bases.
 
“Going forward, we may introduce our own legislation,” Christoff said in a recent telephone interview. “Uber is still very new. We are learning to walk before we run.”

Uber also plans to renew work on legislation to ensure federal employees can take advantage of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft when they travel on official government business. The bill was approved by the House earlier this month and now awaits Senate action.