Today, Congress announced the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2024.  The NDAA is an annual bill that contains important provisions related to the Department of Defense and international security, among other things.  An earlier version of the bill contained two key provisions related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”): The Lobbying Disclosure Improvement Act and Disclosing Foreign Influence in Lobbying Act, both of which had passed in the Senate earlier this year. The final NDAA bill released today, however, does not contain these provisions.  It is not clear why these provisions were removed.  Press reports indicate that the bill’s managers were stripping provision over which there was disagreements between the chambers in an effort to get the annual bill passed before the holidays.  The lack of a House-passed companion provision therefore could have been fatal to the Senate’s FARA-related provisions.

More substantively, although there is bipartisan support for the regulation of foreign agents, legislators appear to be divided regarding the best approach for reform.  Senator Bob Menendez (D – N.J.), who was indicted on federal bribery charges earlier this year, has reportedly objected to reform of laws regulating foreign lobbying and has blocked similar legislation in the past.  On the other hand, Senator Grassley (R – Iowa) and others have engaged with the Department of Justice to develop comprehensive reform bills. At the recent American Conference Institute’s 5th National Forum on FARA, Department of Justice officials signaled that the Department continues to seek legislative reform to FARA.  Accordingly, Congress may take up more comprehensive legislation that addresses the Department’s legislative priorities at a later date.  Covington will continue to monitor and report on FARA legislation.

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Photo of Brian D. Smith Brian D. Smith

Brian Smith provides strategic and legal advice on matters that require substantial political, reputational, or government relations considerations.  He represents companies and individuals in high-profile or high-risk investigations, particularly congressional investigations, criminal investigations with political implications, and investigations related to political law compliance. …

Brian Smith provides strategic and legal advice on matters that require substantial political, reputational, or government relations considerations.  He represents companies and individuals in high-profile or high-risk investigations, particularly congressional investigations, criminal investigations with political implications, and investigations related to political law compliance.  He has significant experience in crisis management, where he advises clients facing combined legal, political, and media relations risks.  His practice also includes the development and execution of government relations initiatives, including securing the U.S. government’s political support on behalf of U.S. companies facing international legal issues.

Photo of Alex Langton Alex Langton

Alexandra Langton represents and counsels corporate, political, and individual clients in matters before government agencies and Congress. She also advises companies, PACs, nonprofits, and individuals on compliance with federal and state campaign finance, election, and lobbying laws.