WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, reintroduced legislation to shine a light on
efforts by foreign interests to influence American policy and public opinion.
The Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act adds teeth to existing law aimed at ensuring
public awareness of lobbying campaigns pushed by foreign powers. The bill is
cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Todd Young
(R-Ind.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and is identical to bipartisan
legislation introduced by Grassley in 2019.
“If lobbyists or
public relations firms are peddling policy preferences at the behest of foreign
powers, we ought to know about it. Unfortunately, we’ve seen uneven application
of laws designed to shine a light on foreign lobbying. This bill gives the
Justice Department new tools to detect and deter secret foreign lobbying and
ensures policymakers and the American public know when influence campaigns are
being pushed by foreign interests. The bill is the product of years of
negotiations and it’s time we get it on the books,” Grassley said.
seeking to influence American institutions sometimes attempt to evade these important
transparency requirements. This legislation would give the Department of
Justice more resources to investigate actions by foreign powers and put into
place enforcement mechanisms to ensure those who do not comply face
consequences,” Cornyn said.
“I am pleased to
join my colleagues in reintroducing this bill to protect the integrity of
democracy from foreign interference and influence campaigns. Extensive foreign
influence efforts are ongoing in our universities, state, local and federal
governments, and even private sector corporations. I will continue to focus on
bipartisan efforts to make it clear that we will hold individuals and foreign
governments accountable who would attempt to interfere in our democracy,” Rubio
“Since 2019, I’ve pushed to
lift the curtain on how foreign lobbying campaigns — most notably those by
strategic rivals like China — work to influence Americans. This legislation
aims to strengthen federal requirements to ensure individuals working on behalf
of foreign entities report their activities. The bill will give the U.S.
Department of Justice more tools to improve compliance and transparency which
in turn will protect our national security interests,” Young said.
Congress passed the Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA) in 1938 to identify Nazi propaganda and other
foreign efforts to influence U.S. policy. The content-neutral law requires
anyone working on behalf of a foreign government, political party or entity to influence
U.S. policy or public opinion to register with the Justice Department as a
foreign agent. However, since it was updated in 1966, FARA has been used
sparingly in criminal prosecutions, and enforcement has been inconsistent.
The Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act strengthens
FARA by providing the Justice Department with more tools to investigate
possible violations and increasing penalties for failure to properly register
as a foreign agent. The bill also provides important oversight checks on the
use of those new tools and improves FARA advisory opinion transparency and
requires the Government Accountability Office to study whether and to what
extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption is being abused
to conceal foreign lobbying activity.
This bill is identical to bipartisan legislation first
introduced in 2019
after years of congressional oversight and input from
federal agencies and U.S.-based stakeholders. It earned bipartisan support from
leaders on the Senate Judiciary, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.
More information on Foreign Agents
Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act