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 GrassleyOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill 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Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a 1938 statute that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have characterized as outdated and weak.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 ShaheenDesign leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures MORE (N.H.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community Trump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (Calif.), along with GOP Sens. John CornynJohn CornynTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Overnight Health Care: Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after complaints | 2020 Democrats to attend Planned Parenthood abortion forum | House holds first major 'Medicare for All' hearing MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates MORE (Fla.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Tillis dodges primary challenge in NC 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE obtained guilty pleas under FARA from two prominent Trump 2016 campaign aides — Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement New York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates 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 JohnsonBipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures Overnight Health Care: 'Medicare for All' gets boost from high-ranking Democrat | Anti-abortion group vows to spend M in 2020 election | Dems make Medicaid center of Kentucky governor fight 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.