Analysis: Lobbying activity at highest level since 2010

Analysis: Lobbying activity at highest level since 2010
© Greg Nash

Lobbying activity in Washington has reached a seven-year high, a new count shows, with $3.34 billion spent during 2017.

Major trade groups and organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Realtors again topped the list of top spenders on lobbying, according to the tally from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Those groups have spent tens of millions of dollars to influence policies on Capitol Hill, followed closely by top medical and health insurance groups.

The realtor group spent $22.2 million on lobbying in Washington during the last three months of 2017, targeting lawmakers in the House to strike certain provisions from the initial version of the tax-reform bill, according to data reported by USA Today.

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Four of the top seven associations on the list of top spenders on lobbying in 2017 were health industry groups such as Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which spent over $20 million each.

The total spending by groups included in the tally marks a near $200 million increase over 2016's total and is the highest amount spent on lobbying in the tally since 2010, which hit over $3.5 billion.

Despite his promises to "drain the swamp" of wealthy interest groups from politics, the first year of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's tenure saw a 6 percent increase in annual lobbying spending compared to the previous year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The shift marks the largest one-year rise in lobbying expenditures since 2008, the last year of former President George W. Bush's second term, the group found. While spending topped that level in the first two years of former President Obama's tenure, it steadily declined under Obama through 2016.

Trump's first year in office also saw the first increase in the number of registered lobbyists since 2007, the Center found, with 11,444 registered lobbyists appearing in quarterly reports to Congress in 2017 compared to 11,169 the previous year.

The Republican-backed overhaul of the tax code, which passed and was signed into law in December, was found to be the most-lobbied issue of 2017, with nearly 1,400 groups lobbying for or against the legislation.