Prospects for Ethics Reform in the 110th Congress

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In the 109th Congress the House and Senate both approved slightly different versions of a lobbying and ethics reform package titled the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. Despite both Houses approving of the legislation the House refused to send members to a conference committee to hash out differences. The new 110th Congress may hold better prospects for the passage of ethics reforms.


Democratic Pledges for Lobbying and Ethics Reform

After emerging victorious in the November 7, 2006 elections Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pledged "to lead the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history."[1] Pelosi has also pledged to sever the ties between K Street, the Washington corridor of lobbying firms, and Congress. To accomplish these goals the Democrats plan to reintroduce their package of lobbying and ethics reforms, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, in the new Congress.[2] Democratic leaders state that each individual proposal in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act will be introduced separately. Many freshmen members will be given the chance to introduce certain aspects of the ethics and lobbying reforms as well.[3]

Honest Leadership and Open Government Act

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006 was introduced by Democrats on January 20, 2006 in the wake of numerous guilty pleas by and indictments of lobbyists and members of Congress.

Bill Contents

  • Ban lobbyists from giving gifts or travel to members or their staff.
  • Require lobbyists to file electronic, quarterly reports. The report must contain information pertaining to efforts to stimulate grassroots support, previous work in the executive or legislative branches, and provide certification of the report with the possibility of criminal penalties for failing to submit a certified report. The bill also creates a searchable public database of lobbying reports.
  • Double the "cooling-off" peri