U.S. business group lobbying surged as tax reform took shape: report

January 23, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lobbying by U.S. business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable surged in the last three months of 2017 as lawmakers negotiated and finalized legislation that deeply cut the taxes companies pay.

The amount spent on lobbying by the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives at the largest U.S. companies, nearly quadrupled to $17.35 million in the fourth quarter, from $4.53 million in the third quarter, according to lobbyist disclosures published on Monday.

More than half of the registered lobbyists in Washington worked on tax issues in 2017, according to a report from the advocacy group Public Citizen, as lawmakers in the U.S. capital scrambled to conclude a year-long effort to pass a tax reform bill before Christmas.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the massive tax overhaul into law in December, slashing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Lobbying expenditures by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business group in Washington, D.C., jumped to $16.83 million in the last three months of 2017, from $13.12 million from July through September.

The Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce also spent millions of dollars on television and radio ads in congressional districts across the country urging voters to pressure their representatives to support the tax bill.

The Business Roundtable is led by Jamie Dimon, chief executive and chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Other members include the chief executives of Northrop Grumman Corp, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors Co.

Spending on lobbyists by the National Association of Manufacturers rose to $2.4 million from $1.3 million, quarter-over-quarter.

The National Association of Manufacturers said it could not comment late on Monday. The Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lobbyists played a outsized role in shaping the tax overhaul.

Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, chairman of the tax-writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, told Reuters last year that an aggressive corporate lobbying effort had derailed a Republican-backed border tax, forcing lawmakers working on tax reform to seek alternatives.

(Reporting by Chris Sanders)

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