April 27, 2006
House Blocks Consideration of Strengthening Amendments Critical for Serious Lobbying Reform; Rules Committee Allows Consideration Only of Trivial Amendments
Statement of Craig Holman, Legislative Representative, Public Citizen; and Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen
Last night, the House Republican leadership attached a restrictive rule to its pathetically weak “Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006” (H.R. 4975). The bill itself offers almost nothing to increase accountability and transparency in government; it is but a ruse by congressional leaders to give an appearance that Congress is responding to the corruption scandals that have swept Capitol Hill, all the while failing to change in any meaningful way how business is done on the Hill.
Several Republican and Democratic members of Congress planned to introduce strengthening amendments during floor debate today that would address the concerns of the American public – amendments to create an ethics enforcement office that would monitor Congress, to restrict the use of corporate jets to fly members of Congress around the globe on travel junkets, to slow the revolving door of members taking lucrative lobbying jobs with businesses that are lobbying them for favors, and to ban gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress.
But the House Republican leadership has attached a rule to the bill prohibiting consideration of any of these strengthening amendments. The restrictive rule will allow floor consideration only of a handful of trivial amendments, such as striking criminal penalties for violating ethics rules and creating a voluntary ethics training course for members.
We urge the House – Republicans and Democrats alike – to vote “No” on this rule and vote “No” on this sham bill if truly meaningful reform amendments are not allowed.