PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4975, LOBBYING ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - April 27, 2006)
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Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I rise today in opposition to the rule before us.
The ethics process in this body is broken. In all candor, there is plenty of blame to go around as to why we find ourselves in this situation. We undermine the public's faith in this great institution when we let petty politics erode the very processes meant to preserve the public's trust in Congress.
I have met with the Majority Leader on this issue, and I sincerely believe that he has a genuine desire to have an effective, functioning Ethics process in the House. I thank him for his willingness to listen, and I hope we can perhaps address this issue in the future.
Having previously served on the Ethics Committee, I firmly believe that the ethics process can work. For the sake of this institution--it must work. And as we begin consideration of the Leadership's ethics and lobby reform package, I will say there are some provisions in the base bill before us that should ultimately be adopted--earmark reform, denying Congressional pensions to convicted felons, enhanced disclosure and improved ethics education are common-sense proposals that I would hope that we can all support.
That being said, I cannot support this rule. Ethics reform is incomplete absent changes to improve the enforcement of House rules. My colleague Joel Hefley and I have put forward legislation to strengthen the ability of the Ethics Committee to dispense with ethics matters by expediting the review of these issues and insulating committee members and non-partisan staff from the political pressures that can pollute the ethics process. We do this by giving the Chair and Ranking Member on the committee subpoena power earlier in the investigative process and prohibiting the arbitrary dismissal of Members and technical staff. We also require ethics education for Members and staff, and we dramatically improve disclosure associated with gifts and travel. All of these common-sense reforms would greatly improve the ethics process in the House.
We sought to offer our legislation as an amendment to the bill we are to consider today. This proposal was not made in order under the rule. Thus, we are faced with the prospect of passing an incomplete ethics reform package that lacks enhanced enforcement.
I think this is a mistake, and for this reason, I must reluctantly oppose this rule.
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