Restrictions on Lobbying the Government: Current Policy and Proposed Changes

Source: Jacob R. Straus, Congressional Research Service, CRS Insight, IN10625, December 15, 2016

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump proposed a series of ethics measures, including several lobbying-related provisions. They are:
• extending “cooling off” periods on lobbying the government for five years after government service; “instituting a five-year ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and their staffs”;
• expanding the definition of a lobbyist to cover former government officials who engage in strategic consulting; and
• issuing a “lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”

President-elect Trump’s ethics plan shares some features with past efforts to restrict Administration officials’ future lobbying activities (the “revolving door”) by adjusting “cooling off” periods—a period of time a former government official is restricted from contacting their former employer on particular matters they might have worked on in government. These previous efforts include a 1993 executive order issued by President Bill Clinton (E.O. 12834) and a 2009 executive order issued by President Barack Obama (E.O. 13490), and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) of 2007. The executive orders supplemented existing statutory revolving door and “cooling off” period requirements…