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Congress appears to take reform seriously

It’s still hard to believe, but real ethics and lobbying reform could be on the way.  And not only in the House.  Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants the Senate to get in on the action too – by passing a single comprehensive bill, as opposed to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) dismemberment plan.

In a press conference earlier this week, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and from both chambers came together to voice their support for passing comprehensive reform early next year.  Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass) called for new rules to break the link between legislation and lobbyists, including the creation of an independent Office of Public Integrity empowered to monitor and investigate ethics compliance.   

Public Citizen has been speaking up for such an agency. In addition to the new regulations that would ban gifts from lobbyists (including several other provisions – see more here), an Office of Public Integrity should serve to enforce the new rules for lobbyists and Congressmen alike.

However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) indicated she had cold-feet, saying she "does not want to overtly politicize the investigative process, nor raise serious constitutional questions."

Looking at who the public voted out of office on Nov. 7th and results from exit polls provided by voters, John McCain hit the nail on the head saying, "The American public wants and demands change, and they will continue to send Congress that message until we improve the system."

Congress must heed the mandate to end corruption in Washington, even if only to avoid the chopping block in ’08.