Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5228, legislation to enhance lobbying disclosure requirements for lobbyists who represent foreign nations designated as state sponsors of terrorism.
Lobbyists who represent foreign governments must register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which also requires that they file a semiannual report with the Attorney General detailing lobbying contacts.
H.R. 5228 would require additional disclosure of the lobbying activities of foreign agents who lobby on behalf of countries that the Secretary of State has designated as state sponsors of terrorism, namely Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
In addition to the semiannual statements, this legislation would require that agents who represent governments deemed state sponsors of terrorism also file a detailed statement with the Attorney General of every lobbying contact with a covered legislative branch official within 45 days of the contact. The Attorney General in turn must make that disclosure available to the public in an electronic format within 90 days.
If an agent of a state sponsor of terrorism failed to make these disclosures, they would be subject to the penalties of FARA, including fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
In addition, the legislation provides that diplomatic and consular officers of a state sponsor of terrorism, who are not otherwise required to report their activities under FARA, cannot be recognized by the Secretary of State as accredited unless the diplomatic or consular officer agrees to provide the Attorney General with a detailed statement of every lobbying contact they have had with a covered legislative branch official within 45 days of the contact.
Mr. Speaker, at a time when American forces are engaged in the global war on terror, it is both right and necessary that agents of state sponsors of terrorism be required to more fully disclose their lobbying contacts with U.S. Government officials.
I commend the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart) for introducing this bill and urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.