Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report for Politico:
[F]ollowing a POLITICO report that lobbyists are getting access to congressional buildings when the public is having trouble getting in, some lawmakers are outraged. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is circulating a letter he wants to send to Boehner, asking that access to the House office buildings be limited to “‘essential’ staff and constituents.”
“Not only are lobbyists causing extraordinary delays for constituents waiting to get into our buildings, but they are also being given access to public buildings while the average American is unable to visit the U.S. Capitol building, all of our national monuments and parks, and our national museums,” Cicilline wrote in a letter being circulated to Democratic chiefs of staff. “While our nation’s veterans are being turned away from our national memorials, K street lobbyists are free to roam the hallways of Congress. We strongly feel that registered federal lobbyists should not be able to conduct ‘business as usual’ in the halls of Congress until the shutdown is over.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is expected to deliver a speech on the Senate floor around noon calling on Speaker Boehner to let the U.S. House vote on a “clean” bill to fund the federal government.
Update: Monte Ward, president of the American League of Lobbyists, fired back at Cicilline on Thursday:
Banning any constituent or citizen from the United States Capitol and the congressional office buildings to keep them from meeting with their elected officials is unconstitutional.
While we respect the Congressman’s frustration for his constituents, we urge him to remember that all citizens, including lobbyists, have a First Amendment right to redress their grievances. Even though the federal government has shut down, the Constitution and Bill of Rights still stand.
The shutdown is an inconvenience for every citizen, lobbyists included. We wish Congress the very best for a legislative outcome that will reopen the government and put America back in business.