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Lobbying and Ethics Reform Measure Produced Today Lacks Key Provisions

May 17, 2007

Lobbying and Ethics Reform Measure Produced Today Lacks Key Provisions

House Democratic Division Produces Modest Bill That Heads to Floor Next Week for Full House Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The lobbying and ethics reform bill (H.R. 2316) approved by the House Judiciary Committee today falls far short of the Democratic Party’s promise to American voters to make this Congress “the cleanest in history,” according to Public Citizen.

“Gridlock seldom produces great results, and this is no exception. Opposition within a sharply divided Democratic caucus has resulted in a failure to fulfill the promise of real reform,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The Democratic leadership and freshman class are firmly committed to sweeping reforms, but many of the ‘old bulls’ of the caucus – who are now chairs of committees – have dug their heels in and are opposing changing the way business is done on Capitol Hill.”

With some of the senior Democrats threatening to kill the entire bill, the leadership worked out an agreement that stripped all new “revolving door” restrictions from the bill. In exchange, the Democratic caucus agreed to vote to send the remainder of the bill to the House along with an amendment that would require disclosure of bundled contributions to lawmakers by lobbyists. The revolving door restrictions would have lengthened the period of time from one year to two during which a member of Congress could not make “lobbying contacts” with former colleagues after leaving public office.

“This provision appeared to threaten the prospects of lucrative future employment for members as K Street lobbyists after leaving Congress,” said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen.

Also rejected by the committee were proposals to require disclosure of the funders’ phony grassroots lobbying campaigns, and a prohibition on lobbyists hosting and paying for lavish parties at the party conventions.

“I hope the bill will be strengthened by amendments during floor debate and by Senate negotiators in conference as they attempt to reconcile the far stronger Senate lobbying and ethics reform bill [S. 1],” said Holman. “They ought to fulfill their promises to the American people.”