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Lawmakers and lobbyists are set to leave town for August recess on the far-flung destination fundraising circuit — a sleep-away camp for lawmakers and their K Street benefactors.
They’ll hobnob on the golf course in Jackson Hole, luxuriate in posh resorts like the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, and hit the beaches from Nantucket to San Diego. They’re shipping out to Disneyland, baseball at Wrigley Field, and retreats in Sun Valley, Idaho, according to fundraising invites and interviews with lobbyists and lawmakers.
“A lot of great political dollars are raised in August, which is why they can’t wait to adjourn,” said Michael Toner, a former Federal Election Commission chair who leads the election law and government ethics practice at Wiley.
This off-election-year August makes for a pivotal fundraising period, especially for incumbents looking to build up their war chests before 2024 to scare off potential challengers. It offers something for lobbyist donors, too: quality time with lawmakers.
“These travel events provide a more conducive opportunity to have friendly discussions without the bells going off and votes being called,” said Republican tax lobbyist Ken Kies, who’s hosted and attended events in Nantucket and Jackson Hole.
Federal election rules allow corporations to pay the travel, food, and lodging expenses of sending a representative to a destination fundraising event, said GOP campaign finance lawyer Jan Baran, a partner at Holtzman Vogel.
Fundraising can be a grind, lawmakers and lobbyists said, so the trips — whether near or far — can shake up the usual monotony of D.C. eateries, where money events are often held when Congress is in session.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is planning his 13th annual summer retreat fundraiser at the Broadmoor, a five-star historic resort with 20 restaurants and two golf courses in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, according to an invitation to lobbyists. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) is doing a fishing trip in his state benefiting his leadership PAC. Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are planning jaunts to the mountain resort town Sun Valley.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is hosting a fundraiser during White Sox vs. Cubs games at Wrigley Field in mid-August, while Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) is planning fundraisers tied to the US Open in her home borough of Queens and at a Beyoncé concert at FedEx field outside D.C.
“Fundraising is the least favorite part of the job for me, but it’s something ongoing and it’s something obviously every member has to do,” she said.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) is also planning a US Open event, with billed special guest Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), according to a roundup of upcoming fundraisers shared with lobbyists and PAC directors.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans to hang with hundreds of contributors in Wyoming’s affluent Jackson Hole during a major donor retreat in August, and will hit the campaign trail for 20 days and visit nine states from coast to coast, said political aide Drew Florio. A major focus this quarter is on raising money for vulnerable House Republicans.
A pair of California House Democrats, Reps. Raul Ruiz and Lou Correa, plan to continue an August recess fundraising tradition of bringing donors and their families to Disneyland for three days mid-month.
Lobbyist Cristina Antelo, who runs Ferox Strategies, said she’s done the trip with her kids for years, adding it includes a reception and brunch with Disney characters. The lawmakers typically bring their children.
“A lot of the kids have been growing up doing this trip together,” she said.
A gusher of federal dollars is at stake as lawmakers push agriculture and nutrition goals this fall in a five-year bill that governs food and farm policies.
Beyond committee chiefs, multiple rank-and-file lawmakers are looking to make their mark on the trillion-dollar farm bill. Up for reauthorization at the end of September, the legislation addresses everything from nutrition aid and farm subsidies to rural internet — touching all corners of the US.
While high-level gridlock looms between the Democratic Senate and Republican House, the traditionally bipartisan bill presents a rare opportunity to pass legislation this year. That means many lawmakers are on a mission to tack on their priorities. Maeve Sheehey highlights those worth watching as Congress inches toward reauthorization — read more.
Lawmakers are ramping up bipartisan efforts to crack down on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), arguing the industry middlemen of driving up drug costs and putting small and rural pharmacies out of business.
BGOV legislative analysts Dan Lee and Karl Evers-Hillstrom are out with a BGOV OnPoint reviewing PBM legislation that could move later this year, including bills approved yesterday by the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.
The House is back at noon to wrap its first fiscal 2024 appropriations bill.
The House will also take up two Senate-passed Congressional Review Act resolutions to overturn rules listing the lesser prairie chicken (S. J. Res. 9; see BGOV Bill Summary) and the northern long-eared bat (S. J. Res. 24; see BGOV Bill Summary) under the Endangered Species Act.
Votes are also possible on two measures debated earlier this week under suspension of the rules.
First votes are planned around 1:20 p.m. and last votes around 2:50 p.m., according to the daily schedule from Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).
For more on the bills announced for floor action this week, see the House Agenda for the Week of July 24 prepared by Bloomberg Government’s legislative analysts.
The Senate returns at 10 a.m. to resume debate on the defense policy bill.
Votes are planned at 11:30 a.m. on eight amendments to the NDAA (S. 2226). Among them are proposals by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) that would bar the flying of flags other than the US flag in public building, by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seeking to reduce the Pentagon authorization by 10%, and by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) focused on increasing domestic nuclear fuel production.
Senators have been aiming to pass the measure before departing for the August recess as soon as today. Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday filed motions to cloture, or limit debate, on the substitute amendment and the underlying bill, which gives him the option to force votes to cut off debate starting tomorrow absent unanimous consent to schedule a vote on final passage. Read more in today’s Defense Brief.
Senators are set to finish committee action on spending bills with markups of the Defense, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education, and Interior-Environment spending bills today in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Legislation directing social media companies to keep children safe from bullying and harassment, and from content that promotes suicide, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual exploitation (S. 1409) and broaden the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to cover teenagers (S. 1418) are among bills the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee plans to mark up.
Lawmakers who blame major social media companies for a crisis in youth mental health are behind the push for both bills that nonetheless will have a tough time squeezing onto Congress’s closing window to pass legislation this year. Oma Seddiq previews the outlook for the bills.
The agenda also includes a bill (S. 1303) to require sellers of event tickets to disclose information to about ticket prices and related fees and a measure (S. 1669) directing the Transportation Department to issue a rule requiring the installation of AM radios as standard equipment in new motor vehicles.
The House Agriculture Committee will mark up a crypto regulation bill (H.R. 4763) the Financial Services Committee considered yesterday.
The bill, which would establish a regulatory pathway for crypto between the SEC and the CFTC, drew criticism from some Democrats who said it would create loopholes and allow fraud from the industry. “Just because something is new and hip does not mean that we should embrace it,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).
The Republican-led measure was approved by the Financial Services panel yesterday in a 35-15 vote, mostly along party lines. A handful of Democrats, including Reps. Jim Himes (Conn.) and Ritchie Torres (N.Y.), voted in favor of the legislation and argued the status quo wasn’t working. Steven T. Dennis and Allyson Versprille have more on the bill.
Bills dealing with digital currency will undergo a second day of markups at the House Financial Services Committee, including a measure from Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to create a regulatory framework for the issuance of payment stablecoins (H.R. 4766).
The House Judiciary Committee is preparing a contempt citation against Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg over a probe into complaints the social media company censored conservative speech. Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who accused big tech firms of working with the Biden administration, scheduled a vote today on a recommendation to hold Zuckerberg in contempt. The full House would have to approve a contempt citation.
Bills to reauthorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (H.R. 4510) and direct the Commerce Department to study AI (H.R. 3369) are among bills scheduled for markup by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Measures to authorize research and work on privacy-enhancing tech at the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology (H.R. 4755) and expand research into carbon sequestration (H.R. 4824) are on a list for markup in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
— With assistance from Zach C. Cohen and Maeve Sheehey.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Ackley at firstname.lastname@example.org