US Chamber of Commerce nudged out of top lobbying spender spot for first time in 20 years

US Chamber of Commerce nudged out of top lobbying spender spot for first time in 20 years
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was nudged out for the top lobbying spender spot by the National Association of Realtors in 2020, marking the first time the powerful pro-business lobbying group didn’t claim the top spot since 2000.

The Chamber spent nearly $82 million on lobbying in 2020, according to an analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics. The National Association of Realtors spent $84 million on lobbying.

The real estate lobbying group and the Chamber were well ahead of the next top lobbying spenders in 2020. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America came in third, spending $26 million on lobbying, according to the analysis.

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The next top spenders were the American Hospital Association, which spent $23.6 million on lobbying, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which spent $22.6 million on lobbying.

Facebook and Amazon were the only companies in the top 10 spending list and spent nearly $19.7 million and more than $18.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.

The analysis also showed that lobbying spending overall reached nearly $3.5 billion in 2020, according to the analysis, and $941 million was spent in the beginning of the year alone, when lobbying picked up for the first coronavirus relief package. 

The CARES Act, which Congress passed in March, was the second-most-lobbied bill, other than appropriations bills, in more than a decade. More than 1,930 clients were signed by lobbyists to work on the CARES Act, just behind the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, when lobbyists signed 2,011 clients. 

The health, finance, insurance and real estate industries all increased their lobbying spending in 2020, compared to 2019.

The health sector overall increased its spending by nearly 2 percent year-over-year and spent nearly $615.4 million on lobbying in 2020. The finance, insurance and real estate sector increased its spending by nearly 7 percent and spent nearly $539.4 million on lobbying in 2020.