by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[W]e’ve had a full year of draining the swamp.
Not a full year of actually draining it, necessarily, but a full year of considering legislation that promises to drain it. There have been no fewer than five bills named after the slogan. None passed, though one was basically implemented via executive order. …
… H.R. 796, the Drain the Swamp Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.)
Unlike the DRAIN the SWAMP Act, the Drain the Swamp Act of 2017 is sponsored and co-sponsored by Republican congressmen who almost always vote in line with Trump’s interests. And as it came after the executive order, it needed to offer some kind of tweak to the president’s own reforms. And it does.
The executive order applies only to executive-branch staff and appointees. DeSantis’s bill extends the five-year ban to members of Congress and their staff — and would also give the reform greater durability, given that federal statutes are not as vulnerable as executive orders.
The bill contains other refinements as well. It would enlarge the definition of “lobbying” to include “consulting and advising,” and enlarge the definition of “lobbyist” to include a former federal employee or official who spends at least 10 percent of his or her time lobbying for a single client in a three-month period.
There has been no action on it since March.
H.R. 826, the Drain the Swamp Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Warren Davidson (R., Ohio)
Same name alert! H.R. 826 tried to outmuscle H.R. 796 by coming out the very next day, seeing as there’s only so much swamp to drain. These bills share a co-sponsor, Rep. Todd Rokita (R., Ind.), too — maybe he didn’t remember which one he liked and slapped his endorsement on both.
H.R. 826 is a significant departure from the past two. It proposes moving the headquarters of executive agencies to locations outside of Washington, D.C., by 2023. To ensure that the new HQs function as actual rather than nominal centers of action, it allows no more than 10 percent of the agencies’ employees to reside in the nation’s capital.
Other than an additional co-sponsor signing on in October, though, there’s been no action on this bill since February.