Joe Biden’s Covid bill, infrastructure proposal have been lobbied by corporate giants

Joe Biden’s Covid bill, infrastructure proposal have been lobbied by corporate giants

U.S. President Joe Biden leaves delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, at the White House, Washington, April 14, 2021.

Andrew Harnik | Pool | Reuters

Several corporate giants have been actively lobbying the White House and members of Congress over two of President Joe Biden’s massive spending packages.

At least two dozen organizations have focused their lobbying efforts on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which he signed into law in March, and his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, according to first-quarter disclosure reports reviewed by CNBC. The reports span from January, the month Biden was inaugurated, through the end of March.

Microsoft, Koch Industries, Verizon, Delta, Bayer, Pacific Gas and Electric, T-Mobile, Lockheed Martin and Comcast are among the companies that have lobbied officials over the Covid bill or the infrastructure package. In some cases, the corporations lobbied D.C. power brokers over both measures.

Major trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers have also deployed lobbyists to influence the initiatives.

Corporate lobbyists engaged with various departments within Biden’s administration, including the White House Office, which is headed by the president’s chief of staff, Ron Klain.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment before publication. All of the companies mentioned in this story either declined to comment or did not respond to requests seeking comment.

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CNBC has previously reported on how business leaders have been reaching out to the administration to share their ideas on how to pay for Biden’s infrastructure plan. Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, which some corporations and many business-friendly groups have opposed.

Telecommunications company T-Mobile paid $90,000 to Putala Strategies during the first quarter. The firm was founded by Christopher Putala, who has been engaging with the White House Office for T-Mobile over the past three months.

A White House official told CNBC that Putala did not lobby Klain himself. The official did not say whom the T-Mobile lobbyist engaged with within the White House Office.

Putala was a lawyer for Biden when he served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to the lobbying report, Putala has worked to influence the White House on both Biden’s infrastructure plan and coronavirus relief proposal.

The filing says Putala lobbied the White House and Congress on “broadband industry practices; issues concerning the provision of wireless services; spectrum management issues; American Rescue Plan Act of 2021; and Administration infrastructure proposal (The American Jobs Plan).”

Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes investing $100 billion as a way to expand public access to broadband. The spending would target underserved areas and prioritize support for broadband networks affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives.

Delta Air Lines paid $30,000 to Rowland Strategy Group in the first quarter to lobby, at least in part, both the Covid relief bill and the infrastructure package.

The lobbyist leading the account is James Rowland, the founder of the firm, and he has engaged with members of Congress. The report notes that Rowland lobbied on “Congressional economic recovery responses to COVID pandemic; American Rescue Plan, American Jobs Plan.”

Prior to launching his lobbying shop, Rowland’s prior experience includes being a chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for about a year starting in 2000, according to his LinkedIn page.

Biden’s plan looks to invest $621 billion into transportation infrastructure such as bridges, roads and airports. Senate Republicans have proposed putting $44 billion into airports.

Koch Industries, Verizon, Bayer and Microsoft were some of the companies that focused on lobbying the Covid relief bill in the first quarter.

Koch, a massive conglomerate run by libertarian billionaire and political activist Charles Koch, spent over $2.6 million on lobbying in the first quarter. Part of its focus went toward lobbying Congress on the Covid relief bill, according to the disclosure report.

The filing also says the company lobbied on Biden’s “Build Back Better Jobs and Economic Recovery plan and related draft legislation.” That plan includes his infrastructure proposal.

Microsoft spent just over $2.5 million on lobbying throughout the first three months of 2021.

The Covid relief bill was among many issues Microsoft lobbied earlier in the year, according to documents. When it came to the Covid bill and the other issues, Microsoft lobbied members of Congress, the Executive Office of the President and other administration agencies.

The Executive Office of the President includes several advisory groups for the president, including the Council of Economic Advisors, the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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