Lobbying Set For A Record Year Fueled In Part By Health Care DebateUSA Today: "As the health care bill moves toward a critical vote in the Senate, the five senators charged with overseeing the floor debate count health interests among their biggest campaign contributors, records show. The political action committees and employees of drugmakers Schering-Plough and Amgen have been the top two contributors in the past five years to Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is one of three senators managing the bill for Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In all, health care interests have donated more than $2.5 million to Baucus' fundraising committees since 2005, the center's data show. Those donations are second only to the finance, insurance and real-estate sectors."
"Health care interests also dominate contributions to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, giving more than $1.3 million to the five-term senator between 2005 and this year. The political action committee and employees of Amgen top his list of contributors during the same period." Other lawmakers working on the health care debate that received large amounts of money include Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. (Schouten, 12/22).
Los Angeles Times: Familiar faces among health industry lobbyists include David Nexon, a former adviser to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). "Nexon's team is an illustration of how deeply the healthcare industry has embedded itself on Capitol Hill, using former aides of lawmakers and ex-lawmakers themselves. An analysis of public documents by Northwestern University's Medill News Service in partnership with the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau and the Center for Responsive Politics found a revolving door between Capitol Hill staffers and lobbying jobs for companies with a stake in healthcare legislation. At least 166 former aides from the nine congressional leadership offices and five committees involved in shaping healthcare overhaul legislation, along with at least 13 former lawmakers, registered to represent at least 338 healthcare clients since the beginning of last year, the analysis found."
"Their healthcare clients spent $635 million on lobbying over the last two years, the study showed. ... The largest insider lobbying cadre belongs to the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, which employs at least 26 former members and staffers, according to the Medill/CRP research" (Zajac, 12/21). Medill News Service also includes a graphic about health care lobbyists (Zajac, 12/21).
Politico: "Washington's influence industry is on track to shatter last year's record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government - and that's with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. Many lobbying firms have escaped the worst of the corporate belt-tightening, thanks, in large part, to the ambitious agenda set out by President Barack Obama - who, ironically, came to Washington with a pledge to break what he considered the undue influence of special-interest lobbyists. Plenty of sectors have scaled back their K Street spending, including traditional big spenders like real estate and telecommunications. But Obama's push for legislation on health reform, financial reform and climate change has compensated for the grim economic times. And that's after Obama kicked off the year with a massive economic stimulus package - and every major business sector tried to get a piece of the action" (McGrane, 12/22). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.