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A "Drain the Swamp" Act — Sponsored By a Democrat?
12/16/2016 Legislation Seth L
keywords: Congress Lobbyists

Throughout the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump, one of Trump's constant refrains was that he was going to be the person to "Drain the Swamp" that is the bureaucracy of government in Washington.

For decades, numerous politicians have made noises about wanting to cut the terrible waste, fraud and abuse in government, but in almost every case, Washington insiders have not been willing to work against the machinery that they themselves were part of. Trump's status as an outsider at least gives him some credibility as far as being able to be taken seriously in this department. But where does the rubber meet the road?

Perhaps in a bill introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) nicknamed the "DRAIN the SWAMP Act" (supposedly an acronym for "Deter Revolving-Door Appointments in Our Nation and Stop Washington Appointees From Becoming Manipulative Petitioners").

Surprisingly, this bill originated with a Democrat, rather than a Republican, despite Trump's year-long campaign about the issue. Nonetheless, at least on the surface, many politicos will say they're fully in support of it.

Currently, a "revolving-door" dilemma exists in government when a person in an official position quits their job to take a role in the private sector where they're tasked with using their special knowledge about their prior position to locate loopholes or ways to take advantage of government rules. Or, perhaps they were able to arrange special deals for outside firms while they were on the government's payroll. A prime example of this may be the much-publicized F-35 fighter jet program, where President-elect Trump accused officials in oversight positions of agreeing to lavish contracts with defense firms then quitting their jobs and going to work for the very same firms the government signed the contracts with and being rewarded with high salaries, stock option bonuses and luxurious perks.

Trump has said that he wants to prevent administration appointees from becoming registered lobbyists within five years of leaving their government service jobs. DeFazio's bill would impose penalties for such actions of up to five years in jail or a $50,000 maximum fine. In addition, the bill would outlaw any lobbying on behalf of a foreign government in perpetuity. Currently, there's no such restriction in place, and the "buffer period" for registering as a lobbyist after leaving an appointed government position is two years, not five.

The bill, HR 6476, is expected to expire at the end of Congress' current session, but DeFazio has said he'll re-introduce it next year and hopefully work with the Trump administration to ensure its passage.

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