You can’t get much further apart on the political spectrum than ultra-progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ultra-conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but they’ve found something they want to work on together.
And new California Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, wants to join them — though former congressmen for his district might not like it.
It all started Thursday afternoon, when Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter that 60 percent of former members of Congress who took jobs outside of politics are now lobbying or influencing federal policy. The data came from government watchdog group Public Citizen.
“If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check,” she tweeted. “I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period.”
Cruz’s account tweeted back about an hour later, saying he agreed with her.
“Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists,” Cruz wrote. “The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”
Ocasio-Cortez agreed, writing that would co-sponsor a bill with him if it were “clean,” meaning it had no hidden clauses or points thrown in besides the ban on lobbying for former members of Congress.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, then said he would also co-sponsor such a bill in the House, as did Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Senate. That would give the bill bipartisan co-sponsors in both chambers.
Rep. Harder chimed in today, tweeting at Ocasio-Cortez that he’d like to join.
“Congress shouldn’t be a stepping stone to getting rich,” Harder said.
That’s a personal issue two former congressman who represented the cities that put Harder in Congress.
Former Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who Harder defeated in Novemer, registered as a lobbyist earlier this year.
Former Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza, who retired from his Central Valley seat in 2012, also is a lobbyist. Cardoza’s 18th Congressional District included parts of what is now Harder’s district at the time.
There is currently a year-long ban on former members of Congress lobbying Congress, which still applies to Denham but not Cardoza. Denham is free to lobby other federal government branches under the rule. Both are currently based in D.C.
“What you hear about corruption and big money in D.C. is real,” Harder said in a statement to McClatchy. “I’ve been leading the fight to clean up Washington from lobbyists since day one.”
Harder was referencing an amendment he wrote as part of the Democrats’ signature For the People Act, which eases voting and increases disclosure requirements on candidates. The bill would force lobbyists to declare their occupations and disclose their clients whenever they contact congressional staff or the executive branch. The House of Representatives passed the bill but the Senate has not voted on it.