Jun 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Hill's new frenemies

Illustration of a check in a checkbox that shifts from red to blue.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The warring left and right flanks in Congress are finding surprising agreement on a triple crown of huge issues — foreign influence in U.S. politics, stock trading by members of Congress and the power of Big Tech.

Why it matters: Those issues all reflect the two parties' increasing efforts to appeal to the working class — and hold official Washington to account.

Between the lines: The legislative clock is running out ahead of the midterms, but these are three clear areas in which lawmakers may find compromise even in a fractured government.

State of play

1. Foreign influence: A disparate group of House members from the Trump-loving Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to the liberal consumer protection attorney Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill to curb foreign influence in U.S. democracy.

  • It would impose a lifetime ban on members of Congress, senior military leaders and senior executive branch officials from lobbying for a foreign government or political party.

2. Stock trading: Earlier this year, the effort to ban members of Congress from trading stock gained serious momentum when both MAGA Republicans and progressives embraced the long-sought-after measure.

3. Big Tech: The left and the right agree on the need for greater regulatory control and want to hold social media companies more accountable for how they police content — though for different reasons.

  • Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want to get their bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, on the Senate floor this summer before time and momentum run out.

The big picture: Warren told Axios that issues like the stock ban are "about restoring confidence in our government, and that should be a nonpartisan effort."

  • Hawley said that on these diverse issues, the mission is "accomplishing things — sometimes that makes for unusual combinations."

What we're watching: Other issues that have pulled together voices across the spectrum include animal rights, cannabis and the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), a leader on cannabis and animal rights, told Axios that when there are big differences, lawmakers need to attack "small parts."

  • "If we can't do comprehensive reform, what small actions can we take?" she said.

The intrigue: Even when there's agreement on policy, the players may jostle to introduce independent, often nearly identical bills.

Reality check: Mace said none of this changes the party divides on taxes, spending, inflation or immigration: 'Those are murkier waters."

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