Congress Passes Ethics Bill

By: AP
By: AP

CAPITOL HILL (AP) _ The Senate has passed an ethics bill requiring lawmakers to be more upfront about funding for pet projects and the money they receive from lobbyists.

Some senators are hailing it as the biggest advance in congressional ethics in decades, while others complain it falls far short of what it could have been.

The bill would force lawmakers seeking targeted spending projects known as "earmarks" to publicize their plans 48 hours before a Senate vote. It would also require lawmakers to disclose when lobbyists raise $15,000 or more for them in a six-month period by "bundling" donations from many people.

Democrats say the bill is a fulfillment of their campaign promise to crack down on lobbying abuses. Senator Dianne Feinstein calls it "the most sweeping reform bill since Watergate."

But several Republicans say it's not enough. Senator John McCain says the current version "gutted" reforms the Senate passed
earlier this year.

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback voted in favor of the bill, but says he wishes it would have gone further.

“While I am disappointed in the lack of significant earmark reforms contained in S. 1, I think a comprehensive ethics reforms bill was long overdue,” Brownback said in a statement. “Congress must continue to take steps to restore the American people’s faith in the legislative process. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to strengthen ethics reforms.”

The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.

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