Retired members of Congress would be banned from working as lobbyists under a bill introduced Tuesday.
Senators currently are allowed to work as lobbyists two years after their terms end, while House members have to wait only a year. Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Jon Tester of Montana, however, would like to keep former congressmen out of the lobbying business for good.
"Washington lobbyists shouldn't be allowed to hold more sway than the folks back home in Colorado and around the country. Unfortunately, that isn't always the way things happen around this place," Bennet, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman, told The Hill.
Said Tester: "Slamming shut the revolving door between lawmakers and lobbyists will let folks know that Congress puts constituents first and will make government more accountable to the American people."
Also included in the proposed bill would be a six-year wait for former congressional staff members before they are allowed to become lobbyists. Under current law, they have to wait one year.
Part of the issue is money, as retired members of Congress receive a pension. Lobbying, on the other hand, can be a lucrative business — particularly for ex-congressmen, who know the ins and outs of Washington. According to the New York Daily News,
taxpayers are on the hook for around $25 million every year to pay for congressional pensions.
In January, a Sunlight Foundation report
said that nearly 250 former congressmen and staffers became eligible to work in the lobbying industry after the new year. Many of them, according to the report, did not wait long to cash in with a new career on K Street.
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