Industry groups and corporations pulled back their lobbying spending in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first three months of the year as the pandemic complicated advocacy of Congress and federal agencies.
One of the top trade associations by revenue, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, spent $5.4 million on lobbying from April through June, a 40% drop from the preceding three months and a 14% decline from the second quarter in 2019.
Pfizer Inc., a PhRMA member, reported spending nearly $2.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, with identical drops over the previous quarter and year as its industry group. The company, however, added new issues including lobbying on “vaccine infrastructure.”
The company did not respond to an inquiry seeking additional information. PhRMA said in an email that it doesn’t comment about its lobbying.
The figures are a reversal from the first three months of 2020, when many of the top spenders increased their lobbying investments as Congress negotiated and passed a $2 trillion recovery package in March (Public Law 116–136). Second quarter lobbying filings were due on July 20.
Almost 25% of trade associations expect to lose $500,000 or more this year as a result of having to cancel in-person events and meetings, according to a June survey from the American Society of Association Executives.
K Street’s top lobbying firms, by contrast, reported higher quarterly earnings as more companies and local governments sought help from the federal government to get a piece of virus relief aid.
The 20 top-spending trade associations cumulatively spent nearly $75 million on lobbying during the second quarter of 2020, a 22% drop from the amount they spent during the first quarter and a 4% decline from the same time in 2019.
Only five of the top 20 associations increased their lobbying spending from the first quarter of 2020 to the second.
The American Medical Association spent $3.8 million in the second quarter of this year, almost half of the $6.6 million it spent during the previous three months, and a drop from the $4.7 million spent during 2019’s second quarter.
Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned electric companies, spent almost $1.9 million on lobbying over the last three months, down from the $2.4 million it spent in the first quarter and $2.2 million during the second quarter in 2019.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) had a banner quarter, spending $3.4 million from April through June of this year. While the figure is only slightly higher than the first quarter of 2020, it’s an 80% boost over the same time last year.
The group has been advocating for the proposals in its American Action Renewal Plan, said Aric Newhouse, NAM’s senior vice president of policy and government relations, in a statement. The plan outlines policy proposals for responding to the pandemic, including seeking direct federal financial support and incentives to help manufacturers retool operations to meet additional demand for personal protective equipment.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association spent roughly $2 million on lobbying from April through June of this year, a 31% increase over the preceding three months and a 14% jump from the second quarter in 2019.
The insurance industry has faced pushback and lawsuits from policyholders unable to file business interruption insurance claims during the pandemic because many plans require that a business incur physical damage. The group listed lobbying on legislation addressing the issue, including the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (H.R. 7011). The industry has come up with a counter-proposal, the Business Continuity Protection Program that they’ve been advocating for on Capitol Hill.
The 20 top-spending corporations spent about $59 million on lobbying during the second quarter, which was an 11% drop from the previous quarter but the same amount spent in the same quarter last year.
Northrop Grumman Corp. spent $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2020, about half of its first-quarter lobbying total and down from $2.7 million in last year’s second quarter.
Vic Beck, a spokesman for the company, said the sharp decline between the first and second quarter is due to a charity donation Northrop Grumman’s political action committee makes in the beginning of the year.
Health insurer Cigna Holding Co. increased its lobbying investment by 71% in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter of the year. It spent $2.5 million from April through June, a 10% increase over the same period in 2019.
Insurance coverage of telehealth services in the age of Covid-19 is one of the new advocacy issues that appears on Cigna’s recent disclosures.
With assistance from Jorge Uquillas
To contact the reporter on this story: Megan R. Wilson in Washington at [email protected]