Thursday, August 02, 2007

Senate approves lobbying and ethics reform bill, will become law

Just days after the house of Sen. Ted Stevens was raided by the FBI in a bribery investigation, The Senate today voted, 83-14 (all opposed were Republicans), to approve the same lobbying/ethics overhaul for Congress the House approved a few days ago. Both chambers had passed similar legislation before, but it was blocked in the Senate for months by Republicans. Since the measures were identical they will go straight to President Bush for his signature, though both passed with veto-proof measures anyway.

A summary from the NY Times:
One of the important aims of the new legislation is to let the public see for itself how much money is being traded for access. For the first time, the lavish torrent of campaign money from eager lobbyists to grateful politicians would have to be reported quarterly to the public via the Internet, with tighter scrutiny and penalties for violators. The reports would highlight lobbyists’ so-called bundling, the massing of individual donations into eye-popping packages for politicians and their party committees.

And the bill would require that all earmarks — those budget-busting pet projects that fall like manna from heaven — as well as who’s sponsoring them be identified on the Internet before final passage. The bill would also curb such abuses as corporate-paid gifts and travel. It would end lobbyist-sponsored galas “honoring” ranking politicians at national conventions. It would even ban the ludicrous pensions now being paid to Congressional alumni doing prison time for felonies.
The Times also reports in detail about how the new law will end the "secret hold" often used by Senators to block bills anonymously.

This is the third major legislative accomplishment of Congressional Democrats to become law, after the minimum wage increase and implementing more of the 9/11 commission's security recommendations.

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