GOP, Democrats Offer Competing Reform Proposals

Alex Chadwick and Madeleine Brand outline competing lobbying reform proposals under consideration on Capitol Hill in the wake of a widening corruption and bribery probe involving Jack Abramoff, a well-connected GOP lobbyist. Congressional Republicans revealed their reform plans Tuesday, and rival Democrats announce their proposals on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

House and Senate Democrats are talking today about their ideas to reform the kind of Capitol Hill corruption that led to the bribery guilty plea by former Lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He made many campaign contributions, and paid for favors such as meals and golfing trips and luxury seats at sporting events.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

The Abramoff scandal has already damaged two House members who were close to him. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said, he will not try to return to his old leadership post. And Ohio Congressman Bob Ney temporarily gave up his committee chairmanship over the weekend.

CHADWICK: Both men are Republicans. And Democrats are eager to make this a Republican scandal, which it mostly is. Democrats will unveil their reform proposals today, but they're not expected to be much different from those offered yesterday by the Republicans and the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.

Representative DENNIS HASTERT (Republican, Illinois): We need to reform the rules, so it's clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt of what is ethically acceptable for members of the House of Representatives and their staff. I want the House to move quickly, and in a bipartisan fashion to get this done. We have a duty to do everything we can to keep the trust and confidence of our constituents.

BRAND: The House proposal bans member travel funded by lobbyists. It places new limits on gifts, and it doubles to two years the waiting period before a member of Congress can start lobbying after leaving office.

A Senate Republican plan from Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and John McCain of Arizona does much the same, and also would ban congressional family members from lobbying.

CHADWICK: But, already there are suggestions the new restrictions are not tight enough. Lobbyists can still pay for travel if they are specifically raising money for political contributions, for instance. Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is the co-sponsor with Senator McCain of bipartisan reforms. Senator Lieberman also visited Mississippi's Gulf Coast yesterday, to look at hurricane recovery. And we spoke earlier.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.