AOC and Ted Cruz find common ground on lobbying ban

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, but on Thursday, Cruz found himself — to his own surprise — agreeing with her on an issue most often associated with progressives: whether members of Congress should be allowed to become lobbyists when they leave office.

“I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet, adding that there should at least be a long waiting period.

Cruz responded about an hour later to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, saying he agrees with the congresswoman.

“Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC. Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists,” Cruz said in his tweet. “The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”

Ocasio-Cortez responded to Cruz, saying “If you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down. Let’s make a deal.” She added that she would co-lead the bill with Cruz if there are “no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s original tweet was made in response to a post from Public Citizen, a progressive consumer rights advocacy group, that stated that about 60 percent of former members of the 115th Congress have taken jobs as lobbyists. The 115th Congress began in 2017 and ended in January 2019.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., found unlikely common ground on Thursday in the form of a lobbying ban on former members of Congress. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Getty Images.)

Among the politicians-turned-lobbyists are former Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., the longtime incumbent Ocasio-Cortez defeated in 2018. Crowley now works for the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, with the firm touting his previous position as the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House.

Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes the Bronx, is often the focus of attacks from conservatives for her progressive policies, including the Green New Deal. But some of her ideas have gotten support across the aisle.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, a Republican, told Bloomberg in a recent interview that he supported Ocasio-Cortez’s push to end “one strike” rules that lead to the eviction of public housing tenants for minor drug offenses.

“She’s interested in people with criminal records being able to get housing. Well, so are we,” Carson said.

Responding to a clip of the interview with Carson, Ocasio-Cortez observed that bipartisanship is seen as either something only moderates can do or as a feat requiring someone to give up their principles.

She added that you don’t have to abandon your principles to find common ground with political opponents. Being curious about other people’s values helps.

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez recognized another rare moment of bipartisan unity after she and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., agreed that Congress needs to place restrictions on the surveillance of Americans. The agreement came after a House Oversight Committee hearing on facial recognition technology, during which witnesses said there were no federal regulations on the technology.

Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet after the May 22 hearing that she was checking the sky for a flying pig because she agreed with Meadows and members of his conservative Freedom Caucus on the issue. Meadows did not respond publicly to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet.

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