What to Know in Washington: Lobbyists Return to Capitol Hill

Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.

It’s like 2019 again for the lobbying trips that drop corporate insiders on Capitol Hill.

These fly-ins, as they are dubbed in the parlance of professional lobbyists, allow business executives to descend on Congress for a day to press their policy priorities. The trips paused entirely or shifted online during the height of the pandemic, but groups have returned in force this spring after the reopening of the Capitol complex.

“Nothing beats connecting with people one on one,” said Rich Harper, director of government affairs for the Outdoor Industry Association, as he led L.L. Bean and the Orvis executives from a recent meeting with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Outdoor Industry Association
Members of the Outdoor Industry Association meet with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) as part of a lobby fly-in.

Face time provides more fertile opportunities to influence lawmakers and to build stronger relationships with their offices, Harper and other fly-in participants said.

Virtual sessions may still play a role in lobbying efforts. But representatives for industries ranging from beer and travel to household products and local business said they were happy to ditch the screens.

Harper was part of a small group of executives from outdoor companies based in New England meeting with members of the region’s delegations, including Collins and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.). They stopped for a break between meetings at the Dunkin Donuts in the Longworth House Office Building. Part of their pitch was working to build support for a bill (S. 448) to expand outdoor recreation venues in urban areas. Collins and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) sponsored the measure.

Members of Congress said they have noticed the uptick in lobbying visits from constituent groups.

“I’ve had Nevadans flying into my office, absolutely,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). “These are people that I want to hear, whether I’m here in Washington or back home.”

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) said she loved seeing the return of lobbying groups as well as families and school groups on spring break roaming the Capitol and stopping for meetings in her office. She noted that she’d met with constituents who were in town as part of fly-ins in between legislative work on committees.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who first won his seat in 2020, said in one recent week he had 200 people come through his office.

“I got here during Covid, so I didn’t see what it was like before,” he said, “But the number of people in the Senate office buildings and in the Capitol has increased dramatically, and I think it’s good. It’s good for our democracy.” Read the full story by Kate Ackley.


  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks in the Rose Garden for National Small Business Week at noon.
  • At 2:30 p.m., the president and first lady welcome Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the White House. Biden and Marcos will hold a bilateral meeting at 2:45 p.m.
  • At 5:30 p.m., Biden, Harris, and the second gentleman will attend a reception celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing at 3 p.m.


  • The House returns next week.
  • The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to vote on a judicial nomination.

Battle Over the Debt Limit

Democrats Look to Man They Named ‘Grim Reaper’ For Debt Help

Democrats say they need Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to prevent a market-upending debt default, viewing the Senate Republican leader they once derided as the “grim reaper” as more of a pragmatist and deal-maker than newly empowered Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

House GOP Sets Mid-June Deadline to Finish Spending Bill Markups

House Republicans aim to mark up their annual government funding bills between mid-May and mid-June, House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas) told members in a letter obtained by Bloomberg Government.

Debt Limit Fight Becomes Fodder for 2024 Attacks by Both Parties

Democrats and Republicans campaign operatives are translating the wonky debt limit debate into campaign trail fodder.

GOP’s Scalise Challenges Senate to Pass Own Debt-Limit Bill

House Republicans challenged the Senate to pass a debt-limit bill of its own and sought to maintain pressure on Biden to hold talks on spending cuts they’ve linked to an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.


  • Flood Insurance: The federal agency responsible for protecting Americans from flood damage wants Congress to cancel its $20.5 billion debt—and enact legislation to make coverage more affordable for lower-income policyholders. Read more
  • Solar Tariffs: Legislation to reinstate solar tariffs on imports of panels from Southeast Asia is expected to get a Senate vote this week, Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) office said. The House passed a version of the bill last Friday, but without enough votes to overcome a veto. Read more

Politics, Probes, and 2024

Tim Scott Teases May 22 Announcement for 2024 Presidential Bid

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who’s expected to make a run for the White House, said he’ll have an announcement on “the final step” on May 22.

Senate Democrats’ Election Chief Focused On Policy Contrast: Q&A

Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the returning chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, believes his party can keep control of the Senate by drawing contrasts with the GOP on issues like abortion and climate change.

DeSantis Weighs Early June Launch for 2024 Run Amid Struggles

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is eyeing the first two weeks of June to formally jump into the 2024 presidential race, according to people familiar with the deliberations, as his long-expected bid shows signs of sputtering before its official launch.

Disney-DeSantis Fight Tests Boundaries of Corporate ESG Push

The Disney lawsuit against DeSantis is being closely watched by companies as a harbinger of how far government officials can go to rein in corporate environmental, social and governance strategies.

DeSantis, Suspended Prosecutor Spotlight Bigger Discretion Fight

DeSantis’ court fight with a suspended state attorney who refused to enforce anti-abortion laws will serve as a high-profile legal test as local prosecutors face more scrutiny over cases they decline to bring.

And the West Virginia GOP Brawl Begins: Ballots & Boundaries

Though we still don’t know whether Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is up for another race, thinking about an entirely different office, or contemplating retirement, the short-term West Virginia political scene is now clearly in view.

Alito Says Draft Abortion Decision Leaked to Stop Ruling

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said he has a “pretty good idea” of who is responsible for leaking the draft opinion last term of the court’s majority decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion and he denied being the culprit.

America’s Security Posture

What to Watch as Biden Meets Marcos Amid Elevated China Tensions

Biden and his Philippine counterpart Marcos Jr. are set to meet today to strengthen one of the oldest alliances in the region that was threatened by a pivot to China under the latter’s predecessor.

  • Marcos Jr. said he is “determined to forge an even stronger relationship” with the US. Read more

US Lags Behind China in Push for Sway in Pacific, Envoy Says

A Biden administration envoy to the Pacific Islands acknowledges that the US has some catching up to do with China after years of neglecting the historically pro-American region.

Biden, Modi to Meet Pacific Leaders at Papua New Guinea in May

Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Papua New Guinea in May to attend a meeting of Pacific leaders, the island nation’s premier said on his government’s official Facebook page.

Biden Pledges to Secure Journalists’ Release, Defend Free Press

Biden pledged his administration will work to secure the release of journalists and American nationals held by foreign governments, while calling on the country to defend democracy.

Kim’s Powerful Sister Slams ‘Old’ Biden Over Nuclear Threat

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slammed Biden for making nuclear threats, saying it marked the “dotage of the old” and would be met by a boost in her country’s atomic arsenal.

More News We’re Reading

JPMorgan to Acquire Failed Regional Bank First Republic

JPMorgan won the bidding to acquire First Republic Bank in an emergency government-led intervention after private rescue efforts failed to fill a hole on the troubled lender’s balance sheet and customers yanked their deposits.

Labor Department in Time Crunch to Finish Big-Ticket Regulations

The Labor Department is running out of time to finish some of its highest-profile labor policy changes, putting several regulations at risk of being sidelined or completely undone.

VA Continues to Pay for Flawed Electronic Health Record Contract

The Department of Veteran Affairs has shelled out $5.5 billion over the last five years on a troubled electronic health records system contract.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

Stay informed with more news like this – from the largest team of reporters on Capitol Hill – subscribe to Bloomberg Government today. Learn more.