They’re back. After a massive recession and years of partisan gridlock depleted their ranks, lobbyists are returning to Capitol Hill.
The prospect of changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — something many deemed unlikely — may be one reason. In the past four months, almost one in five new lobbying registrations listed “health issues” as a legislative interest. If the Supreme Court rules in June against Obamacare subsidies for millions of recipients, it could bring the health care debate roaring back by summer.
When they register, lobbyists provide both broad issue topics and more specific information, such as a bill number, that they intend to focus on. Those registering new contracts citing health care include former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour; Tracy Spicer, a former senior aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy; and at least four former members of Congress, including former Louisiana Rep.Billy Tauzin, who previously served as head of PhRMA, the drug lobby’s biggest trade group.
Between 2009 and 2014, the number of lobbyists in Washington fell by more than 2,000 to 11,761. Meanwhile, the amount of money spent on lobbying dropped by roughly 10 percent to $3.2 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.