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Johnson’s Disclosing Foreign Influence Act passes committee

The House Judiciary Committee today passed Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) legislation, the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act (H.R. 4170), to improve transparency and accountability of agents working to influence American policy on behalf of foreign principals.

This bipartisan piece of legislation updates the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by clarifying disclosure obligations of foreign agents, improving investigative tools for federal officials and providing new reporting requirements on the implementation of the law.

“The American people deserve to know when foreign nations lobby the United States government,” Johnson said. “We cannot continue the years of lax enforcement that have led to widespread abuse of our current laws and allowed foreign agents to withhold their affiliations and keep their efforts hidden. The Disclosing Foreign Influence Act solves this decades-old problem by ensuring transparency in the process and giving the Department of Justice the tools it needs to uphold this important law. Furthermore, this bill adequately protects U.S. business while reaffirming the intent of the statutes. I look forward to moving this critical, bipartisan bill through the House, the Senate and on to the president’s desk for signature.” 

GAO reports issued in the past three decades regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Security Division have found that the DOJ lacked a comprehensive enforcement strategy and the tools necessary to address abuse of foreign lobbying efforts, according to a news release. Additionally, a 2016 OIG report concluded that these issues persist today. H.R. 4170 addresses the ambiguity in the existing law and increases transparency and oversight in DOJ enforcement efforts.

Johnson and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley co-introduced this legislation in October of last year.

“The House Judiciary Committee voted today in favor of transparency and accountability,” said House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). “By closing the dangerous loopholes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act, this legislation gives the Department of Justice the crucial enforcement tools it needs to investigate foreign agents, identify fraud and hold violators accountable. I appreciate all of the hard work that Representative Johnson has put into this bipartisan bill, and I urge my colleagues to support it.”

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