Though Joe Biden believes Republicans and Democrats will join hands and work together once President Trump is out of office, most recognize real bipartisanship in Congress as nothing more than a pipe dream. There simply doesn’t appear to be any way to reconcile the ideological gap between progressive Democrats and Trump-loving conservatives, as was exemplified last month when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) couldn’t even agree on the pricing of croissants at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
But on Thursday, the two divisive politicians appeared to find common ground over the idea that lawmakers should be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after they leave Congress. “Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC,” Cruz wrote in response to an Ocasio-Cortez tweet about lawmakers entering the private sector as lobbyists. “Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?
Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation? https://t.co/jPW0xkH2Yy
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 30, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez quickly asked Cruz to put his money where his mouth is and work with her on a bill. “.@tedcruz if you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down,” she wrote. “Let’s make a deal. If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc – just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists – then I’ll co-lead the bill with you.”
Cruz was into it. “You’re on,” he replied.
You’re on. https://t.co/S3TBfNeO3Q
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 30, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez’s initial tweet arguing that it should be illegal for lawmakers to become corporate lobbyists after leaving Congress cited a new analysis from watchdog Public Citizen that found that 59 percent of the former members of the 115th Congress who have since taken jobs outside of politics are working in “lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups working to influence federal government activities.”
One of the former members of Congress who has become a lobbyist is Joe Crowley, the longtime representative whom Ocasio-Cortez upset in the Democratic primary last June. Crowley now works for the lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs.
As Public Citizen points out, the “revolving door” of politicians cycling into private-sector jobs in which they can leverage their connections in government has been an issue for decades. A 2106 study found that between 1976 and 2012, 25 percent of the members of the House of Representative and around a third of the members of the Senate went on to register as lobbyists after leaving Congress. The study found that the rate at which former lawmakers transition into careers as lobbyists has been rising steadily over the past 30-plus years, and exploded in the ’90s. When people talk about The Swamp, this is what they mean.
After Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez seemed to agree on working up a bill to make the practice illegal, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) hopped on board. So did Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX). “Happy to lead or otherwise co-sponsor in the House,” he wrote. Ocasio-Cortez was pleased.
And that’s just in a few hours – there will surely be more from both parties to sign on.
Nice 👍🏽 https://t.co/52r8cL7RBR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 30, 2019
When asked whether the potential bill would be retroactive, Schatz wrote that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has already worked up a bill that he and his staff will review on Monday.
Though a lot still needs to happen before a law preventing former lawmakers from taking lucrative jobs as lobbyists is actually passed, the fact that Ocasio-Cortez, one of Congress’s most progressive members, and Ted Cruz, one of Congress’s most shameless Trump sycophants, could find common ground is encouraging.