Prospects for Ethics Reform in the 110th Congress

Guest poster: Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation

Exit polls show that the 109th Congress severely misread the American voters and believed that passing lobbying and ethics reforms was unnecessary, despite the parade of FBI raids, criminal indictments, and jailed lawmakers and lobbyists. The leaders of the new Democratic majority have promised to enact the reforms the previous Congress shied away from.

The Democrats' plan is to introduce individually a selection of lobbying and ethics reforms that comprised the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006, an all-in-one package introduced last year. The proposed reforms include:

  • Banning all gifts, meals, and travel to members and staff.
  • Doubling the “cooling-off” period from one to two years.
  • Requiring members and staff to report outside negotiations for jobs.
  • Require conference committees to be open to the public.
  • Ban members and staff from pressuring outside groups to hire based on partisan preference.

The Democratic leadership also promises to make earmarking transparent by requiring all earmarks to list a sponsor and banning the insertion of earmarks into conference reports.

For more information and updates, check Congresspedia's Prospects for Ethics Reform in the 110th Congress and the Sunlight Foundation blog posts on the subject.