General Motors Co. set a record in its spending on lobbying in this year’s first quarter, with its Q1 outlay of $4.66 million ranking as the most that the Detroit auto maker has ever shelled out to influence Washington in a single three-month period.
The increased spending comes as car manufacturers are affected by Washington’s implementation of a bipartisan infrastructure law, and as they could end up affected by President Joe Biden’s stalled social-spending and climate proposal, the Build Back Better plan. Analysts say some parts of that plan have a chance of passing Congress this summer.
reported lobbying on a range of issues in its Q1 disclosure, which was filed last week, including on fuel economy, Build Back Better, electric vehicles infrastructure, EV tax credits, competition legislation and autonomous vehicles.
A GM spokeswoman tied the record quarterly outlay to a greater number of trips to Washington, D.C.
“The reason for the increase was situational. As COVID restrictions lifted we had a number of executives in Washington for business purposes and took the opportunity to meet with policymakers,” said Jeannine Ginivan, GM’s senior director for public policy communications, in an email to MarketWatch.
GM execs’ visits to Washington included a January appearance at the White House by CEO Mary Barra, as Biden hosted 10 private-sector leaders for a meeting on Build Back Better. Barra in January also began a two-year term as chair for a major Washington lobbying group, the Business Roundtable.
When asked about GM’s lobbying on fuel economy, Ginivan said the company “recently supported the latest fuel economy rule.”
Other major car manufacturers didn’t set records with their Q1 outlays on Washington lobbying. Ford spent about $1 million on lobbying for the period, and Chrysler parent Stellantis
also shelled out about $1 million, according to their disclosures. Toyota
reported paying out $1.2 million to influence Washington in January through March, Honda
disclosed spending $1 million, and Tesla
Previously, the highest amount that GM
had spent on lobbying in one quarter was $4.07 million in the first quarter of 2008, according to data aggregated by OpenSecrets.org. The Big Three auto makers sought bailouts from the U.S. government in 2008 and 2009.
Lobbying disclosures were not required to be filed quarterly before 2008, with lobbyists just having to file twice a year.