Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures

Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures
© Aaron Schwartz

Senators are making a bipartisan push to improve the foreign lobbying disclosure process.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHouse to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Trump escalates fight over tax on tech giants Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Democrats on trade MORE (R-Iowa) on Monday introduced legislation that would give the Justice Department more tools to investigate possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a 1938 statute that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have characterized as outdated and weak.

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The measure — co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Biden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate MORE (N.H.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat MORE (Calif.), along with GOP Sens. John CornynJohn CornynGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio places hold on number-two Interior nominee over offshore drilling Rubio on Chris Pratt water bottle story: 'I too was caught with a single use plastic water bottle' House votes to sanction Chinese officials over treatment of Uighurs MORE (Fla.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump says he is fighting testimony to protect presidency The Hill's Morning Report — Dems and Trump score separate court wins GOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate MORE (Ind.) — would allow the Justice Department to increase the penalties for people who fail to properly register as a foreign agent.

It also would require the Government Accountability Office to study whether and to what extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption is being abused to conceal foreign lobbying activity.

Foreign lobbying has been in the national spotlight since special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE obtained guilty pleas under FARA from two prominent Trump 2016 campaign aides — Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortGiuliani meets with fired Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed Biden, 2016 claims: report Top State Department official tells senators he has not seen evidence of Ukrainian interference Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE and Richard Gates — over their lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.

Grassley has been one of the loudest voices calling for changes to foreign lobbying rules.

Grassley introduced the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act with Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing House Republicans on Judiciary strategize ahead of Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (R-La.), which focused mainly on the Lobbying Disclosure Act, in the previous Congress.

Shaheen and Young have teamed up on two similar bills — one to give the Justice Department new authority to investigate potential violations and another, with Feinstein and Cornyn, to strengthen FARA.