House Speaker Nancy Pelosi loves the idea. Quelle surprise!
By Lee Fang and cross-posted from The Intercept.
Industries as varied as oil refining, construction, fast food restaurants, and chemical manufacturing are seeking federal cash to support their lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
Many of the largest lobbying forces are organized under the 501(c)(6) section of the tax code as trade groups. Corporations with similar concerns pool their money together to fund trade groups, which in turn employ thousands of lobbyists to shape elections and legislation on a daily basis. But the Paycheck Protection Program, the centerpiece of the small business rescue program, excluded such trade groups. That could change in the next round of stimulus legislation, which Congress is scheduled to debate later this month.
Lobbyists have stepped up a campaign to make sure professional influence peddlers are eligible for the PPP, or P3, funds. The push also includes a demand for an additional $25 billion for canceled events and other lost revenue from the coronavirus pandemic. Senior Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, plan to accommodate the demand and change the eligibility standard so that small business bailout money can flow to business advocacy groups.
The American Society of Association Executives, which represents trade group leadership, explained in a letter to lawmakers that trade group lobbyists need federal funding to better advocate for their clients.
“These organizations are already relied upon to help coordinate federal resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and they require staff to fulfill this duty,” ASAE wrote. Trade groups, the ASAE letter notes, have faced declining revenue as corporations wind down dues payments and sponsorship fees in response to the economic downturn.
The letter was signed by many of the most influential Beltway lobby groups. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association, one of the trade groups requesting the 501(c)(6) bailout, pays its top lobbyist, Chet Thompson, $1.8 million a year. The group represents the largest oil refiners in the country, including Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, and Motiva Enterprises, the U.S. arm of Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco…