Lawmaker Opposes GOP Legislation, Says It Doesn’t Go Far Enough and Fails to Offer a Comprehensive, Permanent Solution to the Culture of Corruption
Washington, DC—Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted against the sham House lobbying bill offered by the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives. The GOP’s bill makes modest changes to current rules governing lobbying activities, delays real action on restrictions on private-funded travel and the acceptance of gifts until after the November election and does nothing to slow the revolving door between serving in Congress and working as a lobbyist.
“It is abundantly clear that the House Majority simply doesn’t get it, and is not listening to the American people. This bill doesn’t go far enough in addressing the culture of corruption which has been rampant in Congress,” said Higgins. “It is unfortunate that our bill, which is tougher and would create real change, was not considered. If we are serious about making the changes necessary to make a difference in the Washington culture, we need to enact strong legislation, not the weak shortsighted bill passed today which is a sham and plays the American citizens for fools.”
The bill voted on today fails to sever the links between Members of Congress and special interests. Specifically it:
• Fails to slow the revolving door between congressional service and lobbying;
• Fails to require disclosure of Members contacts with lobbyists and of lobbyists’ fundraisers and other events that honor Members;
• Delays real action on privately-funded travel and gifts until after the November election;
• Fails to crack down on pay-to-play schemes, like the “K Street Project;”
• Includes loophole-laden earmark provisions that would not have exposed the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere” and does nothing to prohibit “Dead of Night” Special Interest provisions crammed into bills while no one is looking.
In contrast, the Democrats’ proposed bill would:
• Require lobbying disclosure, including lobbyists’ fundraisers and other events that honor Members, and the name of each Member they contacted, as well as their campaign contributions;
• Double the period in which former Members are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues, from 1 year to 2 years;
• Permanently ban travel, gifts, and meals from registered lobbyists to Members of Congress, and prohibit Members from using corporate jets for officially-connected travel; and
• Shut down the “K Street” project in which jobs in lobbying firms were traded for legislative favors, and shine the light on earmarks so that special interest provisions cannot be slipped into bills without public scrutiny.
In addition, the Democratic lobbying and ethics reform proposal requires changes in the way Congress does its business in order to end practices that subvert the open and fair legislative process, by ending the “dead of night” legislating used to pass crucial and complex legislation without full public or Member review, requiring earmark reform, and mandating open conference committee meetings so special interest provisions cannot be slipped into bills without public scrutiny.