House Leaders Back Ethics Rules
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Lobbyists would be required to disclose the gifts they give lawmakers and members of the House would be temporarily barred from taking privately funded trips under legislation endorsed Tuesday night by GOP House leaders, according to Republican officials.
Responding to a Republican-tinted corruption scandal that erupted earlier this year, GOP leaders also agreed to support a requirement for lawmakers to disclose when they place money in a spending bill for pet projects, these officials said.
In addition, Republicans intend to seek limits on outside political organizations that currently are permitted to accept unlimited donations from individuals. Republicans say that Democrats benefit disproportionately from these groups, and Republicans envision imposing a cap of slightly more than $27,000 on individual donations along with a requirement that donors be disclosed by name.
The officials who described the details of the emerging package said they remain subject to change. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the leaders are to brief the Republican rank and file on Wednesday.
Eight months before the midterm elections, majority Republicans are hoping to re-energize a campaign designed to rehabilitate the image of lawmakers and curtail the influence of lobbyists in the wake of a scandal involving Jack Abramoff. The GOP lobbyist pleaded guilty in January to federal corruption charges. He has yet to be sentenced, but the probe continues and he has been cooperating with investigators.
Senate debate on a companion bill was suspended last week after controversy flared over plans by a Dubai-owned company to take over terminal operations at six U.S. ports. It was unclear when GOP leaders intended to resume the debate on the ethics bill.
It was also unclear when the House GOP leadership intended to bring the legislation to the floor.