U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is ready with his agenda for the new Congress, no matter who is in charge.
Gaetz appeared at a forum on Monday called by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs where some House Republicans gathered to discuss rules for the upcoming 118th Congress.
The Fort Walton Beach Republican spelled out his plans: rid the House of lobbyists’ money, insider trading, and the parade over bulky, overly complex bills.
Gaetz said one priority would be advocating a House rule that prevents federal lobbyists and political action committees from donating to individual candidate campaigns.
“That money all has strings attached to it,” said Gaetz, “and anybody who tries to tell you otherwise is lying.”
“When members take hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs, they work for them more than they work for their constituents.”
Gaetz regularly trumpets the fact that he has rejected all such donations, and thus is not beholden to behind-the-scenes, inside-the-Beltway influencers, and says some Democrats already support his idea, and he may get “all of them” to vote for it.
His second priority is a lifetime ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists after they leave office.
“Why is it so hard to say that you should choose on one side or the other to be on?” he noted. “You’re either in the law-making game or you’re in the influence-peddling game.”
Gaetz said he expected Democrats to support that proposal as well.
The congressman also proposed an end to stock trading by members of the House.
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That, he argued, “dilutes trust” in both markets and the government. Democrats, he predicted, should back that too.
His final agenda item would mirror what the Florida Legislature does: “single-subject” bills.
“A bill coming to the floor should only deal with one subject,” he said.
Gaetz recalled being “incensed” as a freshman lawmaker when he had to vote on a bill that dealt with U.S. agriculture and authorizing war in Yemen.
“The notion that we lash all these things together does not serve our constituents and the American people,” said Gaetz.
Gaetz said some may believe it’s “treacherous and deceitful” for conservatives and liberals to join forces to “liberate our institutions from the corrupt grip of lobbyists.” But, he added, “I can’t wait to swim in those turbulent waters” in January.
Responding to a question from Gaetz, Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman and former chief of staff to President Donald Trump, said such ideas might be popular among lawmakers and doable.
But, he suggested that congressional leaders have a track record of shelving items they know would likely pass because they would hurt their interests.