Ethics Reforms to Bring Honest Leadership and Open Government in Washington
Washington, DCToday, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) was sworn in as a member of the 110th Congress, entering his second term in the House of Representatives.
These first few days of the 110th Congress will serve as a new beginning and cleanup of the ethical mess that Washington has become, said Higgins. We will vote on legislation that will sever unethical ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, and will end the abuses that have become rampant in Congress. On this historic day, I am honored to witness the swearing-in of our first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and look forward to working with her and the entire Democratic Caucus to bring about these seriously needed reforms.
The ethics reforms that will be voted on this week:
Bans Gifts from Lobbyists: Bans gifts, including meals and tickets, from lobbyists and the organizations that employ them..
Bans Lobbyist Travel: Bans lobbyists and the organizations that employ them from financing travel for Members or staff, except for one-day travel to visit a site, attend a forum, participate in a panel, or give a speech. The ethics committee would be required to develop guidelines to ensure minimal lobbyist involvement in such travel.
Requires Certification and Pre-Approval for Travel Paid for By Outside Groups: Requires the sponsors of all other permitted travel to certify that they have abided by all restrictions on lobbyist involvement. Requires Members and staff to obtain pre-approval from the ethics committee for travel to ensure trips are connected to official duties, the amount spent is limited to reasonable expenses, and the destination is related to the purpose of the trip. Requires the full disclosure of all travel within 15 days after the trip. Travel provisions take effect beginning on March 1st.
Prohibits use of Company Planes: Prohibits the use of official, personal or campaign funds to pay for the use privately-owned or corporate jets. This provision does not apply to charter plane services available to the public or to airplanes owned by Members.
Ends the K Street Project: Clarifies that no Member can take or withhold an official act, or influence, or offer or threaten to influence, the official act of another with the intent to influence on the basis of partisan political affiliation an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity
Mandates Ethics Training: Require mandatory ethics training annually for all House employees.