Mar 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The coronavirus is creating a lobbying feeding frenzy

Illustration of Congress cloche lifting up to show stack of money.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lobbyists are racing to grab a piece of a federal stimulus package that could top $2 trillion.

The big picture: Every industry, company and niche group affected by the virus, including some that have never lobbied before, is jockeying to get federal funding and approval for pet projects — making federal lobbying one of the few boom industries right now.

Where it stands: Congress is still working on a final package, with the hope of getting something done this week. The largest conglomerates and industry groups are working overtime to make sure they get a cut.

  • Hotels, airlines, restaurants, casinos, manufacturers and other service industries that have been battered by the coronavirus spread are angling to get hundreds of billions in loans and other funding.
  • Hospitals and physicians want at least $100 billion and significant Medicare payment hikes, partially because they've had to cancel lucrative elective procedures.
  • A coalition of major employers is lobbying Congress for payroll tax credits and coverage subsidies for people who lose their jobs.

Additionally, some lobbyists are pushing for "stalled policy proposals unrelated to the crisis," the Wall Street Journal reports — everything from capping transaction fees on credit cards to creating tax breaks for gym memberships, according to the New York Times.

The intrigue: The chance for federal bailouts has motivated small players to make bigger investments, and some nontraditional parties are spending their first lobbying dollars.

The bottom line: Business interests won in the Republican tax overhaul and the most recent year-end budget package. It's very possible the same will occur in the major coronavirus bill.

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