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'It is Critical That Congress Act Immediately to Address the Systemic Republican Culture of Corruption'

Location: Washington, DC

January 12, 2006

'It is Critical That Congress Act Immediately to Address the Systemic Republican Culture of Corruption'

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter to Speaker Hastert yesterday afternoon urging him to take action to address the Republican culture of corruption that has pervaded the House by passing real lobbying reform, addressing Republican ethical abuses, and ensuring checks and balances in the legislative process.

Below is the text of the letter:

January 11, 2006

The Honorable J Dennis Hastert
United States House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In recent days, the Congress and the country have been inundated by Republican arrests, guilty pleas, bribery allegations, and resignations that provide detailed evidence of the Republican culture of corruption that pervades Washington. As a result, the American people are paying the price and have lost confidence in their elected officials.

Republican leaders finally claim they are willing to address lobbying reform, but that is only a part of cleaning up the systemic corruption that has prospered in the Republican Congress. Real lobbying reform is essential, but Congress must also take swift and credible actions to address the ethical abuses resulting from the rules and laws that have not been followed or enforced. And Congress must open the process of legislating so that the actions of Members and lobbyists are clear to the public.

That is why I call on you to take three immediate steps as soon as Congress reconvenes for the second session of the 109th Congress.

First, to restore the integrity of the House in the eyes of the American people, the conduct of those Members and staff whose unethical behavior has severely damaged the reputation of the Congress itself must be immediately and fully investigated.

For more than a year, as a result of your decision to replace the chairman of the Ethics Committee and then the professional staff of that Committee, there has been no functioning ethics process in the House. I urge you to join me in clearly stating to the Ethics Committee that it is our strong expectation that the committee will take all steps necessary to quickly initiate a fair and robust investigation of the alleged violations of criminal laws and the rules of the House by several Members, beginning with Congressmen Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Richard Pombo, and John Doolittle. Media stories have contained allegations that each of these Members committed egregious violations of House rules.

Second, Republicans must join Democrats in the House of Representatives to make real and substantive reform that will prevent the abuses of power by Congressional Republicans.

When Congress reconvenes on January 31, I urge that, as our first order of business, you bring to the House floor the comprehensive reform package, entitled "Amending the Rules of the House to Protect the Integrity of the Institution." This 14-point series of reforms, introduced by Congressmen David Obey, Barney Frank, David Price, and Tom Allen and endorsed by a majority of House Democrats, weakens lobbyist influence, strengthens fiscal discipline, curbs abuses of power, outlaws the use of earmarks to buy votes for questionable legislation, creates more time for serious Congressional oversight, and prevents last-minute legislative items from being slipped into conference reports between the House and Senate without a full public vote by the conference committee.

Finally, I urge you to move swiftly to repeal legislation written by special interests dealing with energy tax breaks, prescription drug prices and vaccine liability, all at great cost to American taxpayers and consumers. Specifically, I request a vote on:

* Legislation, introduced by Congressmen Brian Higgins, Edward Markey, and Tim Bishop, would repeal the $8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to the oil and gas companies experiencing historic profits, and use the money instead to ease the home heating costs for low-income families and seniors and energy costs for small businesses and farmers.

* Legislation, introduced by Congressman Marion Berry and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, to repeal the provision prohibiting Medicare officials from negotiating with drug companies for lower drug prices, which was inserted into the Medicare prescription drug bill at the insistence of the pharmaceutical industry. Congress must also conduct aggressive oversight hearings of the entire Medicare prescription drug legislation to remedy all the problems that are now abundantly clear as implementation proceeds.

* A repeal of the liability protection for the drug industry that was inserted in the avian flu package in the waning hours of the last session, just before Christmas. Congress must act to delete this last-minute special interest provision, which provides virtually unlimited liability protection to the drug, medical device, and related industries.

The American people deserve to know whether their federal representatives stand with them or with corporate special interests.

Mr. Speaker, it is critical that Congress act immediately to address the systemic Republican culture of corruption that has undermined the American people's confidence in this institution. It is long past time for you to begin this effort.

I look forward to your response.


Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader

cc: Congressman David Dreier, Chairman, House Rules Committee

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