If the last two days are any indication, ethics reform is now the hottest issue in Washington. A day after Republicans recruited Senator John McCain to announce their plan to clean up government, close to one hundred congressional Democrats stood together in the Library of Congress as Senator Barack Obama talked about the importance of the reforms his party was introducing.
And both parties put out plans that included tighter restrictions on lobbyists and their interactions with Congress.
The Democrats, hoping the scandal involving indicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff could help their chances of winning back the House and the Senate in November, offered the more comprehensive proposal. The Democratic ideas, all named after various characters in the scandal, target specific activities they want to eliminate. For example, the so-called “Tony Rudy Reform,” referring to a former Tom DeLay aide who started lobbying Congress quickly after he left Delay’s office, would ban former aides or members from lobbying Congress until a two-year waiting period had passed, doubling the current one-year requirement.
Democrats also want to ban gifts from lobbyists, require government officials to disclose if they are in negotiations for jobs for when they leave Congress, post legislation on the Internet 24 hours before votes and end lobbyist-funded travel. The GOP also wants to extend the lobbying ban, stop lobbyists from paying for travel and would eliminate pensions for members of Congress who are convicted of felonies.