We Need More Than Words

House and Senate Democrats came together today on a strong and creative set of reform principles. We applaud their total ban on gifts, as well as their proposal to require lawmakers to disclose outside job negotiations.

There is no legislation yet to correspond to the reform package. But at this point, we must ask the same question we asked when Republicans introduced their reform proposal on Tuesday: How will all these new rules and regulations be enforced? We need more than words. We need an independent ethics commission because Members of both political parties have proven time and again that they cannot and will not police themselves.

“Both of the parties’ proposals fail to get at the heart of the problem, which is a complete lack of enforcement of the rules in Congress,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “Without credible enforcement, new rules are just more words.”

Common Cause pledges to work with both parties in both chambers to come up with a strong bipartisan reform package with enforcement as its cornerstone. These scandals demand nothing less than that.

On Monday, Common Cause will convene a panel of legislative ethics experts on the federal and state levels to explore the creation of an independent ethics commission.

Panelists will include Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Stanley Brand, founding partner of Brand Law Group and Dennis Thompson of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The event will be held at the National Press Club in Washington at 9:30 a.m. and more information will follow.