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Attempt to bar GM, Chrysler lobbying fails

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Attempt to bar GM, Chrysler lobbying fails



WASHINGTON -- A move by a California House Republican to bar General Motors, Chrysler and the former GMAC from lobbying while owned in part by the U.S. government failed today, with House Democrats voting to block the proposal from joining a financial reform bill.

The amendment by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would have blocked any firm in which the government owned 5% or more from hiring federal lobbyists unless the administration swore off any "direct or indirect" influence over its operations. Issa said the plan was meant to keep companies from using taxpayer money to essentially lobby for more taxpayer money.

"If the government is calling the shots, you don’t get to have registered lobbyists," Issa said. "The goal here is to have transparency."

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said the proposal was so broadly written that even new regulations such as tougher fuel economy rules would qualify as government influence. He also said the move would likely be deemed unconstitutional if ever put into effect.

"There is a First Amendment right to lobby us, annoying as it is," Frank said.

Issa's proposal failed on a 9-13 vote, with all but one House Democrat in the financial services conference committee voting against it.

Issa, ranking Republican on the U.S. House Oversight committee, has been among the loudest critics of the Obama administration's auto industry rescue, and accused GM of nearly committing fraud in ads touting its loan repayment earlier this year.

The conference committee hammering out the compromise version of a financial reform bill between the House and Senate is expected to tackle next week the question of whether auto dealers should be exempt from new consumer protections. Democratic leaders have said they hope to pass the final bill before the July 4 recess.



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