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House passes ethics reform

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August 3, 2007

The US Senate on Thursday passed what its Democratic leaders proclaimed as the most sweeping law regulating lobbying and lawmakers’ conduct in history, following a string of political scandals.

But Republicans, who lost control of Congress last year partly due to a clutch of ethics questions, complained the bill, which has already passed by the House of Representatives, did not go far enough.

“In sending the most sweeping ethics and lobbying reform in history to the President, we are giving the American people a government as good and honest as the people it represents,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.

Democrats, in a nod to the voters who installed them in power after congressional elections last year, saw ethics reform as one of their top priorities.

The bill prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts and free travel from lobbyists. It also slows what is known as the “revolving door” which often sees former lawmakers quickly reappear in a new life as lobbyists.

“The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that has plagued this city for the last six years,” Reid said.

The White House however complained that the bill did not do enough to cut down on lawmakers adding special projects for their districts to spending bills — a process known as “earmarking.”

“The language has been considerably weakened, and furthermore, the reporting requirements have been reduced basically to no requirements at all,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

A string of ethics scandals in recent years rattled the former Republican majority in Congress.

The most notorious involved the “superlobbyist” Jack Abramoff who built an empire during the Republican rise to power in Congress in the 1990s, and expanded his influence with Bush’s capture of the White House in December 2000.

But after falling from grace, Abramoff, 47, pleaded guilty last year to defrauding lenders in a Florida gambling boat deal and jailed for nearly six years for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Just last week, the FBI raided the home of Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens, as part of a probe into alleged corruption.

Democrats have also had their ethics problems.

In June, Louisiana lawmaker William Jefferson, who allegedly stashed 90,000 dollars in his freezer, was indicted on 16 counts of bribery and corruption and accused of a string of frauds in Africa.

5 Responses to House passes ethics reform

  1. kanawah

    August 3, 2007 at 11:30 am

    The bill that was passed was a GIANT step forward, but it is only the first step in a 10,000-meter race.

    As the republicans said, it did not go far enough.

    On the ‘revolving door’ being slowed down, I think it should be nailed shut. When a person leaves congress, he or she should be prohibited from having any contact with of assisting anyone who has contact with congress for lobbying purposes for a minimum of 6 years, and a life time prohibition on foreign lobbying activities.

    The same needs to be applied to the bureaucracy, at least 6 years before former bearcats can even advise on lobbying.

    On the earmarks; they should be totally prohibited. If a congressperson wants the ‘goodie’ let them stand up and sponsor the action, either as an independent bill, or as an amendment. On the subject of amendments, only those that relate to the original bill should be allowed.

    The ‘restrictions’ on receiving from lobbyist is little more than ‘the 98 pound weakling’ taking on Godzilla. There should be a total ban on all gratuities from any lobbying entity. On campaign contributions, they should only be allowed from individuals, not PACs or corporations. (See comment below). The present system is nothing more or less than ‘legalized bribery’.

    As to PACs and corporations, they should be stripped of their ‘person hood’ status that the Supreme Court bestowed up on them in the mid 1800’s.

    The current system is a total disgrace.

  2. gene

    August 3, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Ethics reform bill and the repubs (some) complaining it doesn’t go far enough. I wonder what direction they are referring to. This gov of ours is the biggest joke on this planet. But the clueless zombies that shop at walmarts and else where continue their day to day (me, myself, and me again) life styles. Their next comment after they leave wally world (walmart) is “super size that please” and “is this two for one day?”.

  3. geyser

    August 3, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    The easiest of promises made by the Democrats, is on it’s way to completion. Ethics Reform which was the main reason the Repubicans downfall, from grace and losing the Majority.
    The Republicans after passing the Bill said, the Bill did not go far enough. This statement comes from the same group of people that not only embarrassed themselves but, have individuals serving jail time. If they feel the Bill fell short of its purpose, why did they not speak up, at the proper time to further enhance the Bill?
    Any Ethics Bill will only be as good if adhered to.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  4. RSW

    August 5, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Congressional Reform – certainly an oxymoron.

    Oldernwiser

  5. bryan mcclellan

    August 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Re:revolving door,nail it shut indeed,then take it up a notch.Take away their pensions and make them contribute to social security,our retirement program should not be administered by people who have no stake in it’s solvency.Remove all secret service protection when they leave office.That would ensure that they do the bidding of the people or face the risk of average Joe confronting them on his turf.Most of whom,would likely kick them in the balls given the chance.I recently read that over 100 agents(new) are undergoing training to protect smirk when he leaves office.At the least $50,000 per agent,I thought he had Blackwater?Make the bastards pay for they’re own security and we my well smell a different funk coming out of Washington.Let them know it’s public service not self serv.The point about removal of earmarks makes the most sense of all.Eradicate the panderers influence and as you say the gimme crowd will have to live or die on merit alone.