Fischer vows to keep foreign adversaries out of U.S. lobbying

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) recently introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that aims to prevent unregistered agents of foreign adversaries from lobbying in the United States.

The Preventing Adversary Influence, Disinformation, and Obscured Foreign Financing (PAID OFF) Act, S. 434, would help close loopholes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 that currently allow such lobbying.

“China, Russia, and our other adversaries are constantly attempting to undercut our national interests and skew U.S. policy in their favor,” Sen. Fischer said on Feb. 24. “The PAID OFF Act will help prevent foreign adversaries from meddling in our legislative process, and it will stop individuals working for foreign powers from skirting the disclosure laws that identify them as such.” 

Sen. Fischer is one of six original cosponsors of S. 434, including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The bill was sponsored on Feb. 15 by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). U.S. Reps. August Pfluger (R-TX) and Jason Crow (D-CO) on Feb. 17 introduced the same-named companion legislation, H.R. 1099, in their chamber.

If enacted, the measure would amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act to make it easier for the U.S. government to catch unregistered agents by removing the commercial activities and Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) registration exemptions that allow foreign agents to lobby for America’s adversaries without having to disclose that they are being paid off by a foreign adversary government, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Fischer’s staff. 

Specifically, the bill would apply to agents lobbying on behalf of countries of particular concern, defined in statute as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria, the summary says, noting that the Foreign Agents Registration Act has not been amended since the 1990s.