House takes big step forward for lobby and ethics reform

Common Cause commends House Members who voted overwhelmingly today in support of the new lobby and ethics reform bill, which should go a long way toward changing the way business is done in Congress.

“If there is a positive side to Jack Abramoff and the wave of congressional scandal, this is it,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “Significant reforms in this bill should change the way business is done in Washington by shining the light on the often mutually dependent relationships between lobbyists and members of Congress, and how money is raised and spent on Capitol Hill.”

The lobbying package contains a number of significant reforms, including:- A ban on gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations.

– Changes to travel. House Members will be prohibited from traveling on private jets and the Ethics Committee must pre-approve privately funded travel, which must be disclosed on a website.

– Disclosure of fundraising and bundling by lobbyists for Members.

– Requires sponsors to disclose earmarks and certify no personal financial benefit.

– Requires that Members prohibit their staff from having lobbying contact with the Members’ spouse if he or she is a registered lobbyist.

– Prohibits Members from attending lobbyist-sponsored parties held in their honor at the national political conventions, unless the Member is the party’s presidential or vice presidential nominee.

Common Cause also commends House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for negotiating a difficult compromise on the bill, and for pledging to move the legislation through both chambers before the August recess.