Lobbyists Swarm DC as Democrats Plot New Spending and Taxes

Lobbyists Swarm DC as Democrats Plot New Spending and Taxes

Reuters/Cheriss May

Democrats’ push for trillions of dollars in new spending – and the taxes to help pay for it – is proving to be good news for the lobbying industry in the nation’s capital. According to Roll Call Thursday, some K Street lobbying firms have reported record revenues in the first six months of 2021, as clients scramble to influence the scope of the emerging legislation.

Companies want to know how the still-developing infrastructure and social welfare plans could affect them and are looking for ways to sway lawmakers as they write new rules and create new programs. Firms are also looking for ways to protect themselves from changes in the tax code.

The visible hand of government: Karishma Page of the firm K&L Gates, which earned a record $10 million in the first half of the year, described the current lobbying environment: “Responding to a once in a century crisis, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats continue to embark on one of the most ambitious policy agendas in recent history. The impact will be far-reaching across the economy and society, possibly for decades to come. Fates are being written.”

The revival of earmarks has also played a role in the lobbying surge, Roll Call’s Kate Ackley says. Some organizations, including hospitals and local governments, are getting back into the lobbying game after years of non-participation, drawn by the possibility of winning funding for specific projects through earmarks – or “member-designated projects,” as they are now called.  

“I think a lot of people took a wait-and-see approach and didn’t know quite how real it was, but I think the process playing out like it is — community projects are here to stay, and it’s a real opportunity, and it’s a bipartisan opportunity,” one lobbyist said.

Clients increase spending: Some of the biggest spenders in Washington – a group that includes the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Amazon and Raytheon – have reported spending more on lobbying efforts this year, although two major groups – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors – say they spent less, probably due to declines in election-related efforts.