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U.S. Chamber spent record $72.7M to lobby

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business group, spent a record-setting $72.7 million on lobbying the government last year, the Political Money Line Web site reported Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business group, spent a record-setting $72.7 million on lobbying the government last year, the Political Money Line Web site reported Tuesday.

At a cost of more than $6 million a month, the chamber and its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) unit fielded scores of lobbyists in 2006, said the Web site based on federal filings.

The chamber spent $39.8 million in 2005 and $53.4 million in 2004.

Bruce Josten, an executive vice president at the Washington, D.C.-based chamber, told Reuters that, "Much of that expansion was ILR at the state level, as opposed to the federal."

In 2007, Josten said, recent ethics and lobbying reforms passed in the House and the Senate will affect how the chamber does its work. Asked if last year's rapid growth would continue, he said, "Do elections ever get less expensive?"

Political Money Line said that the lobbying industry in 2006 was operating at an all-time high level, with total expenditures in the first half of 2006 hitting a record of almost $1.3 billion, or about $211 million a month.

Lobbying expense reports for the second half of 2006 are being filed now, it said.

Josten said top issues for the chamber in 2006 were pension reform, relations between the United States and India, and a range of tax, trade and energy issues.

This year, top agenda items will be immigration reform, labor organizing procedures, health care, trade, education, terrorism insurance, foreign investment in the United States and the minimum wage.

Political Money Line was acquired by Congressional Quarterly last year. The report can be seen at www.tray.com.