Just hours after passing the very first bill of the new Congress on Wednesday — one designed to roll back a range of environmental and consumer regulations — House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., celebrated with a corporate lobbying firm at a fundraiser for his campaign committee.
The vote on the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 took place at 4:48 p.m. on Wednesday. The fundraiser, at the offices of the BGR Group, a major lobbying firm, started at 7 p.m.
The bill would amend existing law to allow Congress to repeal en masse multiple regulations finalized since the end of May last year. The law is believed to be aimed at rolling back a rule designed to deter mining companies from polluting drinking water sources, rules designed to curb hazardous methane emissions from fracking sites, and a rule that extends the threshold for overtime pay to workers, among others.
BGR Group represents Chevron, Celgene Corp, the Consumer Technology Association, Eli Lilly & Co., Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson, Raytheon, Southern Company, and Xerox, among many other clients, and has helped a number of clients work on regulatory policy.
The high-dollar event had a $10,000 price tag for each sponsor of the event, $2,500 for each political action committee, and $1,500 per individual, according to an invitation obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and shared with The Intercept.
Bridget Gribbin, a fundraiser for Speaker Ryan who helped organize the event, declined to comment, but a representative of the BGR Group confirmed that Ryan attended.
Lobbyists are particularly eager to use the newly empowered Republican Congress to sweep away the environmental, financial, labor and consumer-oriented rules implemented by the Obama administration.
The U.S Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying trade group for large firms like Google and Goldman Sachs, made the Midnight Rules Relief legislation a top priority. Other trade groups representing a wide swath of business interests, such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses, have also lobbied in support of the measure.
The first week of legislative action for the 115th Congress began with a thwarted attempt by Republicans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that investigates misconduct, in particular between lawmakers and lobbyists. After a public outcry, the GOP dropped the attempt to weaken the office.