Washington, D.C. – Last night, House Democrats introduced the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act – their proposal for a third Coronavirus relief package. Among the many provisions, Section 407 of the bill sets certain “conditions on federal aid to corporations” – including a complete ban on federal lobbying until recipients repay the federal government. In response, the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics (NILE) Chairman of the Board Paul Miller issued the following statement:
“The First Amendment clearly prohibits Congress from impeding ‘the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances’. With this in mind, I am troubled by language in the House bill that would set conditions on the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.
During times of crises, difficult decisions must be made by our elected leaders. While I believe that the competing plans introduced by House and Senate leaders are well-intentioned, this unconstitutional provision does not relate at all to the more pressing issues at hand: ensuring the health and safety of Americans against the Coronavirus, making resources available for American families to survive, and preventing a catastrophic collapse of our economy.
Lobbying is a legitimate and essential part of our democracy. We understand the negative perceptions of our profession that have resulted from some unethical practices by a very few within our profession. To this end, we have worked – and will continue to work – with Congress to implement reasonable reforms that have been recommended by the NILE Lobbying Task Force. These reforms will ensure Americans continue to have their voices heard in Washington D.C, provide more transparency to the American people, and hold lobbyists to a higher ethical standard.”