When Paul Misener, Amazonâs global head of policy, took over the companyâs Washington office 15 years ago, he had a staff of two focused on retail tax laws and other technology-related issues. Amazon now has more than 60 people listed as its lobbyists â both employees and contractors â double what it had even just two years ago, according to the data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The lineup includes people as prominent as Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader, who helps persuade members of Congress. In total, representatives for Amazon have met with lawmakers dozens of times in the last year. The efforts also reached NASA, the postal commission and the Department of Transportation, among others.
Amazon and Mr. Bezos, its chief executive, have other interests in Washington, too. Amazon is now a major government contractor with a $ 600 million cloud computing partnership with the C.I.A. And Mr. Bezosâs ownership of The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013, gives him a foothold in the political and media circles of Washington.
Amazon declined requests to comment for this article. But on a recent earnings call, Amazonâs chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, explained why Amazon wanted to move more aggressively into delivery.
âTo properly serve our customers at peak, weâve needed to add more of our own logistics to supplement our existing partners,â Mr. Olsavsky said. âThatâs not meant to replace them.â
In addition, the companyâs shipping costs rose 19 percent, to $ 5 billion, in 2015. The millions of members of its Prime annual subscription service, Amazonâs most frequent customers, have helped feed the surge. Those customers receive free shipping for many products.
Some analysts expect Amazon eventually to take over its entire logistics chain â in some cases, from factory to doorstep. Just this month, Amazon signed a deal to lease 20 Boeing cargo planes.
A few analysts got excited when Amazon referred to itself as a âtransportation service providerâ in a recent regulatory filing. The company, they suggested, could even become a competitor to UPS and FedEx.
Mr. Olsavsky insisted on the call that UPS and FedEx would continue to be important partners. FedExâs chief executive, Fred Smith, also played down the possibility of Amazon becoming a rival. In a call with analysts and investors last week, he criticized âfantasticalâ reports about Amazonâs challenge to logistics companies.
Satish Jindel, founder of the SJ Consulting Group, which advises transportation and logistics firms, said, âIf my package doesnât get delivered to my expectations, most people donât think of FedEx or UPS.â He added, âThey think of the retailer, so Amazon is getting into drones and delivery to enhance the customer experience and have a bigger influence over the customer.â
Already, the companyâs drone push in Washington has had some success. Amazon has worked with NASA, for example, to create an air traffic system that would establish lanes in the sky for drones.
Amazon has also urged Congress to adopt rules that would allow the retailer to fly drones beyond a pilotâs line of sight, a crucial hurdle to Amazonâs goal of operating drones from its warehouses. This effort is expected to face an important test soon. This month, the Senate Transportation Committee drafted a bill that would ensure rules for delivery drones within two years.
Airline and pilot groups have resisted many of Amazonâs proposed changes.
âThe chances of a collision will go way up when you have more unmanned aircraft up,â said Chris Dancy, a spokesman for the Helicopter Association International, a trade group.
Some drone makers said in interviews that Amazonâs bold statements may be generating too much public angst, helping the safety advocates.
Amazon is arguing for changes in many other areas, too. Already, Mr. Misener, the lead lobbyist, has called for an overhaul of an arcane system of international delivery rates that he says give foreign e-commerce rivals an unfair advantage to deliver to American homes.
He also urged the approval of legislation that aims to improve roads, bridges and railways. The bill was passed by Congress and signed into law in December.
âThe private sector cannot make all the necessary improvementsâ in transportation, Mr. Misener said in July during a Senate hearing, a message that he has repeated to members of Congress. âGovernment needs to keep up.â
Amazon has backed a proposal for 33-foot twin-trailer trucks, vehicles that would extend the current legal length of trucks by several feet; opponents say longer trucks could make roads more dangerous for other drivers.
âThe 33-foot trucks are going to be safer,â Mr. Misener said last July, âbecause there will be fewer of them on the road, driving fewer miles.â
The proposal has been met with resistance from Ralph Nader, a longtime consumer advocate. He said he wrote Mr. Bezos, asking Amazon to stop its support of these trucks for safety reasons. He said Mr. Bezos never responded. The proposal was rejected last year as part of a broader transportation bill.
âDrones and longer trucks, what are all these efforts for?â Mr. Nader said in an interview. âTo get you your toothpaste faster?â