Chamber sees drop in lobbying spending

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent less on lobbying last year than it did in 2009, according to lobbying disclosure reports released Thursday.

Overall, the business association spent $131.5 million on lobbying in 2010, according to the reports, a nearly 9 percent decline from its lobbying spending in 2009. The Chamber itself spent $100.2 million on lobbying last year while an affiliated group, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, spent $31.3 million.

The Chamber spent $123.3 million on lobbying while the IRL spent $20.9 million, adding up to $144.2 million spent on lobbying in 2009.

That figure attracted widespread attention as the business group battled against much of the Obama administration's legislative agenda, including the healthcare and financial services reform bills. It also made them the top spender on K Street that year. 

After President Obama signed healthcare and financial services legislation last year, Congress did not consider many major bills as lawmakers geared up for the November elections. Consequently, lobbying took a back seat for the second half of 2010 as campaign season came into full swing.

"Along with trade, infrastructure, and a host of other issues, the Chamber actively lobbied in 2009 on two of the most sweeping pieces of legislation that we’ll see in our lifetime — healthcare reform and financial markets reform," said Tita Freeman, a Chamber spokeswoman. "Since those laws were enacted by early 2010 and since it was a midterm election year, Congress's agenda was naturally less ambitious in 2010. That said, the Chamber remained active on healthcare, Dodd-Frank, voter education associated with the midterms, and other priorities."

And despite those bills passing Congress last year, it doesn't mean the Chamber will back down on the lobbying front, according to Freeman. The business group will be lobbying on the regulations stemming from those pieces of legislation.

"We are absolutely more active this year on the regulatory front, as these vast new laws make their way through the regulatory and rule-making stages," Freeman said.

The Chamber's lobbying figures include not only money spent on lobbying but also on advertising buys geared toward voter education.

Despite the decline from 2009, the business group's 2010 lobbying figures are still substantial when compared to their 2008 totals of $91.6 million, according to records.