Senate Democrats

S. 1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

Summary and Background

On January 4, 2007, Senator Reid introduced S.1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.  This ethics reform legislation would stiffen rules that govern the interaction of Senate Members and staff with lobbyists and lobbying firms.  The bill would prohibit gifts and travel paid for by lobbyists, extend lobbying bans for former Members and staff, and strengthen the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.  The bill would also improve Senate procedures to require public disclosure of earmark sponsorship and establish point of orders against conference reports that have not been made available on the Internet prior to consideration and out-of-scope matters in conference reports.  Further, the measure would prohibit partisan efforts by Senators to influence private sector hiring, such as the “K Street Project.”  The bill would also require mandatory ethics training for members and staff, audits by the Government Accountability Office, and annual reports by the Senate and House Ethics Committees.  Finally, the legislation would establish a bicameral, bipartisan Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress.  Senate floor debate will begin on S.1 on January 9, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. 

Major Provisions

Title I – The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

Section 102. Out of Scope Matters in Conference Reports.  S.1 would establish a point of order against consideration of a conference report that contains a matter not given to the conferees by the House of Representatives or Senate (i.e. any matter that exceeds the scope of the differences between the House- or Senate-passed versions of the bill).  A point of order would be required for each out of scope matter and would be voted on separately.  If sustained, the matter would be struck from the conference report.  Once all points of order dealing with out of scope matters are disposed of, the Senate would consider whether to send an amendment containing the remaining, un-struck provisions of the conference report to the House.  Although this question would be debatable, no further amendments would be allowed.   

S.1 would permit the point of order against out of scope matters to be waived or suspended by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of all Senators.  Further, three-fifths of all Senators would be required to sustain an appeal of the Chair’s ruling on a point of order raised in this section.   

Section 103. Earmarks.  S.1 would add Rule XLIV regarding earmarks to the Standing Rules of the Senate (“Standing Rules”).  Earmarks are not currently defined in law or congressional rule.  This new rule would define “earmark” as a provision that specifies the identity of a non-federal entity to receive a specific amount of assistance in the form of budget authority, contract authority, loan authority, other expenditures, tax expenditures, or other revenue items. 

S.1 requires that before consideration of any bill (including appropriations, revenue and authorizing bills), amendment, or conference report, a list identifying all earmarks in the measure must be made available to all Senators and be posted on the Internet, where it can be accessed by the general public, for at least 48 hours.  In addition to the earmark itself, the list must include the identity of the Senator(s) who proposed the earmark and an explanation of the “essential government purpose” for the earmark. 

Section 104. Availability of Conference Reports on the Internet.  S.1 would amend Rule XXVIII of the Standing Rules to require that conference reports be made available to all Senators and be posted on the Internet, where it can be accessed by the general public, for at least 48 hours prior to consideration.  The failure to do so would be subject to a point of order.  This provision would take affect 60 days after enactment, at which point the Secretary of the Senate, in consultation with the Clerk of the House, the Government Printing Office, and the Committee on Rules and Administration will have developed a website capable of complying with this new requirement. 

Section 105. Elimination of Floor Privileges for Former Members, Senate Officers, and Speakers of the House Who are Lobbyists or Seek Financial Gain.  S.1 would amend Rule XXIII of the Standing Rules to eliminate floor privileges for ex-Senators, ex-Officers, and ex-Speakers of the House who are registered lobbyists, foreign agents, or persons employed by or representing a party or organization for the purpose of influencing the passage, defeat, or amendment of any legislative proposal.  The bill would, however, permit the Committee on Rules and Administration to allow former members affected by this section floor privileges for ceremonial functions and events designated by the Majority and Minority Leaders.

Section 106. Ban on Gifts from Lobbyists.  S.1 would amend Rule XXXV of the Standing Rules to prohibit Senators from accepting a gift, including gifts under $50 (including meals), from a registered lobbyist or foreign agent.

Section 107. Travel Restrictions and Disclosure.   S.1 would also amend Rule XXXV of the Standing Rules to prohibit travel or lodging paid for by a registered lobbyist or foreign agent or in which a lobbyist will participate or attend.  To this end, prior to accepting any otherwise permissible transportation or lodging from a non-governmental entity, the rule would require a Senator or staff person to:

·        Obtain a written certification that (1) the trip was not financed in whole, or in part, by a registered lobbyist or foreign agent; (2) the provider did not accept, directly or indirectly, funds from a registered lobbyist or foreign agent for the purpose of financing the travel expenses; (3) the trip was not planned at the request of a registered lobbyist or foreign agent; and (4) registered lobbyists will not participate oar attend the trip; 

·        Provide, in writing, the Select Committee on Ethics (“Ethics Committee”) or, if staff, supervising Senator: (1) a detailed itinerary of the trip; (2) a determination that the trip is educational, consistent with official duties, and does not create an appearance of misuse of public office; and (3) a determination that the trip has a minimal or no recreational component; and  

·        Obtain written approval of the trip from the Ethics Committee.

S.1 would require that no later than 30 days after completing the approved travel, the Senator or staff person must file with the Ethics Committee and the Secretary of the Senate and post to the Senator’s official website a description of meetings and events attended during such travel and the names of any registered lobbyists who accompanied them, subject to limited exception on national security grounds. 

S.1 would further amend Rule XXXV to require the Senator, officer, or staff person to: (1) disclose noncommercial air travel taken in connection with their duties (excluding a flight on an aircraft owned, operated, or leased by a government entity); and (2) file a report with the Secretary of the Senate, including the date, destination, and owner or lessee of the aircraft, the purpose of the trip, and the persons on the trip, except for any person flying the aircraft.  Moreover, S.1 would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C.434(b)) to require disclosure of similar information for noncommercial flights (except those designated to transport the President, Vice President or candidates for those two offices) taken by a candidate (except for Presidential or Vice Presidential candidates) during the relevant reporting period.

Finally, S.1 would amend Rule XXXV to require the Secretary of the Senate to publicly disclose, and Senators to post on their official website, no later than 30 days after the trip or flight, all disclosures filed pursuant to this section (the travel restrictions and disclosure section).

Section 108. Post Employment Restrictions.  S.1 would amend Rule XXXVII of the Standing Rules to prohibit for one year any former Senate senior-level employee (a person who worked for a Senator or committee whose rate of pay was equal to or greater than 75 percent of a Senator’s rate of pay for more that 60 days) who subsequently becomes a registered lobbyist or lobbyist employee (employed for the purposes of influencing legislation) from lobbying any Senator, officer, or employee of the Senate.  This provision would take effect 60 days after the enactment of this title.

Section 109. Public Disclosure by Members of Congress of Employment Negotiations.  S.1 would also amend Rule XXXVII to prohibit a Senator from directly negotiating prospective private employment until after the election for his or her successor has been held, unless the Senator files a signed statement with the Secretary of the Senate, for public disclosure, within three business days of commencement of such negotiations, detailing the entities involved in the negotiations and the date they were commenced.

Section 110. Prohibit Official Conduct with Spouse or Immediate Family Member of Member Who is a Registered Lobbyist.  S.1 would further amend Rule XXXVII to require a Senator whose spouse or immediate family member is a registered lobbyist or lobbyist employee (employed for the purposes of influencing legislation) to prohibit all staff employed by the Senator, including staff in personal, committee, and leadership offices, from having any official contact with that family member.  The legislation defines “immediate family member” as a Senator’s son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister.

Section 111.  Influencing Hiring Decisions.  S.1 would amend Rule XLIII of the Standing Rules to prohibit a Senator from (1) taking or withholding, or threatening to take or withhold an official act; or (2) influencing, or offering or threatening to influence, the official act of another with the intent to influence, on the basis of partisan affiliation, an employment decision or practice of a private entity. 

Section 112. Sense of the Senate that Any Applicable Restrictions on Congressional Branch Employees Should Apply to the Executive and Judicial Branches.  S.1 would express the sense of the Senate that any applicable restrictions placed on Congressional branch employees by this title should apply to the Executive and Judicial branches. 

Section 113. Amounts of COLA Adjustments Not Paid to Certain Members of Congress.  S.1 would prohibit a Member of Congress who voted for an amendment (or against the tabling of an amendment) blocking the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Members of Congress, provided for in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (2 U.S.C.31), from receiving the adjustment.  Any amount not paid to a Member of Congress under this provision would be transmitted to the Treasury for deposit in the account: subheading “MEDICAL SERVICES,” heading “VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION.”  This being said, while the salary of the affected Member of Congress would be deemed to be the lower amount (without the COLA) for all other purposes, the salary of the affected Member of Congress would be deemed to be that of a Member who received the COLA for the purposes of determining any benefits, including retirement or insurance benefits.  This provision would take effect on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after February 1, 2008.

Section 114. Requirement of Notice of Intent to Proceed.  S.1 would prohibit the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, or their designees, from recognizing a notice of intent by a Senator in their respective Caucus to object to proceeding to a measure or matter unless the Senator submits the notice in writing and, within three session days, submits to the Congressional Record the following notice: “I, Senator [Name], intend to object to proceeding to [measure or matter], dated [date].”  The Senator would also be required to enter the notice on a newly created section of the Senate Calendar of Business entitled “Notice of Intent to Object to Proceeding.”  The entry would include the name of the Senator filing the notice, the measure or matter on the calendar that is the subject of the objection, and the date the objection was filed.  The Senator can likewise rescind the objection on the calendar by submitting the following notice: “I, Senator [Name], do not intend to object to proceeding to [measure or matter], dated [date].”

Section 115.  Effective Date.  Unless otherwise indicated in the above sections, this title of S.1 would become affective on the date of enactment. 

Title II – The Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

Subtitle A – Enhancing Lobbying Disclosure

Section 211. Quarterly Filing of Lobbying Disclosure Reports.  S.1 would amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1195 (LDA) (2 U.S.C.1604) to require quarterly, rather than semiannual, disclosure reports by lobbyists.  The quarterly period would be on the 20th day (or first business day that follows) of January, April, July and October of each year.  To accommodate this change, the legislation would also amend certain reporting thresholds and disclosure triggering amounts (cutting them by half) in various sections of the LDA.

Section 212. Annual Report on Contributions.  S.1 would further amend the LDA (2 U.S.C.1604) to newly require that, within 45 days after the end of the quarterly period beginning on October 1 of each year referred to in the above section requiring quarterly filings, a registered lobbyist or lobbyist employed by a registered organization file a report with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives.  The report would have to contain the lobbyist’s name and employer, the name of each federal candidate or officeholder, leadership PAC, or political party given an amount equal to or greater than $200, and the name of each said person/organization for whom a fundraising event was hosted, co-hosted or sponsored with then the past year, including the date and location.   

Section 213. Public Database of Lobbying Disclosure Information.  S.1 would amend LDA (2 U.S.C.1605) to require that the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives post on the Internet, for free, a searchable, sortable, and downloadable electronic database that contains the information from registrations and reportings required by the LDA, directly links to the information disclosed in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, and is at least searchable by a registered lobbyist’s past executive and legislative employment (infra 214) and name of covered officials to whom the lobbyist paid travel or expenses (infra 215).  Also, the legislation would require a report filed electronically to made available to the public on the Internet within 48 of its filing.  The legislation would authorize appropriation of the funds necessary to create this database. 

Section 214.  Disclosure by Registered Lobbyists of All Past Executive and Congressional Employment.  S.1 would require lobbyists to disclose in their filings all past employment as a covered legislative or covered executive branch official. 

Section 215.  Disclosure of Lobbyist Travel and Payments [in Quarterly Reports].  S.1 would amend the LDA (2 U.S.C.1604(b)) to require registered lobbyists to disclose in their quarterly reports the name of each covered legislative or covered executive branch official for whom the lobbyist (or employee listed as a lobbyist) provided, or directed/arranged to be provided, any payment or reimbursement for travel and related expenses in connection with the official’s duties.  Required in the disclosure for each covered official would be (1) an itemization of payments or reimbursements and to whom they were made; (2) the purpose an final itinerary of the trip; (3) the name of any registered lobbyist (or employee of registrant) who attend the trip; (4) the name of the trip’s listed sponsor(s); and (5) the name of other financial contributor(s) to the trip.  The information required to be disclosed by this section must be provided no later than 30 days after travel. 

S.1 would also require that quarterly reports include the date, recipient, and amount paid by a registered lobbyist (or employee of registrant that is listed as a lobbyist) to:
(1) cover the costs associated with an event honoring a covered executive or legislative branch official; (2) an entity named for a covered official, or to a person or entity in recognition of a covered official; (3) an entity established, controlled or designated by a covered official; or (4) pay the costs of a meeting or event held by or for the benefit of one or more covered officials.  Payments or reimbursements made from funds already required to be reported under section 304 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C.434), however, would be exempt from this reporting requirement.

S.1 would additionally require that quarterly reports include the date, recipient and amount of any gift valued in excess of $20 given by a registrant, or employee of registrant listed as a lobbyist, to a covered official.  This applies to gifts that are deemed by House or Senate rules to be counted towards the $100 cumulative annual limit described in the rules.  The legislation defines gifts broadly as all items having monetary value, including gratuities, favors, discounts, entertainment, hospitality, loans, forbearances, services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals whether provided in kind, by ticket purchase, advance payment, or reimbursement. 

S.1 would require registered lobbyists to include in their quarterly reports each client’s name and whether the client is a public entity, including state or local government entities. 

Section 216.  Increased Penalty for Failure to Comply with Lobby Disclosure Requirements.  S.1 would increase the penalty for failing to comply with disclosure requirements proscribed by the LDA (2 U.S.C.1606) from $50,000 to $100,000.

Section 217.  Disclosure of Lobbying Activities by Certain Coalitions and Associations.  S.1 would amend the LDA (2 U.S.C.1603) to require disclosure in the registration filing of the name, address and principal place of business of any organization, other than the client, that “participates in a substantial way in the planning, supervision or control of such lobbying activities.”  (This would be a slight change from the current language which requires disclosure of an organization that “in whole or in major part plans, supervises, or controls such lobbying activities.”) 

Unless the organization “in whole or in major part plans, supervises or controls such lobbying activities,” S.1 would exempt from this section’s disclosure requirement organizations that are publicly known to be affiliated with the client or publicly known to have provided funding to the client.

Further, S.1 explicitly states that this section would not require the disclosure of information about individuals who are members of, or donors to, the registrant’s client or an organization identified in this section. 

Section 218.  Disclosure of Enforcement for Non-compliance.  S.1 would further amend the LDA (2 U.S.C.1605) to require that the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives provide semi-annually the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform the aggregate number of lobbyists and lobbying firms (separately accounted) referred to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for noncompliance with the LDA.  (The LDA requires the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives to report lobbyists or lobbying firms that have failed to comply with the LDA, provided that the registrant has failed to respond within 60 days to a notice of their noncompliance.)

Section 219.  Electronic Filing of Lobbying Disclosure Reports.  S.1 would require disclosure reports to be filed electronically, in addition to any other form.

Section 220.  Disclosure of Paid Efforts to Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying.  S.1 would amend the definition of “lobbying activities” in the LDA (2 U.S.C.1602) to include paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying but to not include grassroots lobbying. The legislation provides definitions for “grassroots lobbying,” “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying,” “paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof,” and “grassroots lobbying firm.”  The legislation also identifies who is considered a member of a registrant entity.  (See legislation for definitions.)

The bill would not, however, include paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying in establishing the spending threshold that determines whether a lobbyist or firm must register under the LDA (2 U.S.C.1603).

The legislation would require a grassroots lobbying firm retained by a client to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying to register with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives no later than 45 days after retention. 

S.1 would also amend the LDA (2 U.S.C.1604) to require that quarterly reports from lobbyists or lobbying firms (including grassroots lobbying firms) include a good  faith estimate of amounts paid to stimulate grassroots lobbying, including an estimate of the total amount related to paid advertising. 

Unlike reports associated with other lobbying activities, S.1 would not require reports relating to grassroots lobbying activities to include a statement listing the congressional offices and federal agencies contacted by a registered lobbyist on behalf of a client or a list of employees who acted as lobbyists on behalf of the client.

S.1 would revise the estimating income or expenses provision of the LDA (2 U.S.C.1604) such that estimates of amounts in excess of $10,000 will be rounded to the nearest $20,000.  If, however, the estimate does not exceed $10,000, the registrant must include a statement to that effect.  Further, for amounts paid to stimulate grassroots lobbying, estimates of amounts in excess of $25,000 would be rounded to the nearest $20,000.  If the estimate does not exceed $25,000, the registrant must include a statement to that effect. 

For tax purposes, S.1 would provide that the definition of “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying” should be confined to those activities that are considered grassroots expenditures in section 4911 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as opposed to the new definition outlined in this section.  

Section 221.  Electronic Filing and Public Database for Lobbyists for Foreign Governments.  S.1 would also amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) (22 U.S.C.612) to require FARA registrations and updates to be filed electronically.  Further the bill would require the Attorney General to create and place on the Internet, for free, a searchable, sortable, downloadable database that contains the information from registrations and reportings required by the FARA and directly links to the information disclosed in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.  Also, the legislation would require a report filed electronically to be made available to the public on the Internet within 48 hours of its filing.  If passed, this section would take effect on January 1, 2008. 

 Subtitle B – Oversight of Ethics and Lobbying

Section 231. Comptroller General Audit and Annual Report. S.1 would require the Comptroller General (Director of the Government Accountability Office) to annually audit lobbying registrations and reports filed under the LDA to determine whether the rules are being complied with by lobbyists and clients.  The report would be submitted to Congress by April 1 of each year.  The audit would include the Comptroller General’s assessment and recommendations for improving compliance and for providing the Senate Secretary and the House Clerk with the additional resources needed for effective oversight and enforcement of the LDA. 

Section 232. Mandatory Senate Ethics Training for Members and Staff.  S.1 would require new Senators and staff to complete the ethics training program conducted by the Senate Ethics Committee within 60 days of the start of employment.    Senators and staff, already employees at the time of enactment, would be given 120 days to complete the training. 

Section 233. Sense of the Senate Regarding Self-regulation within the Lobbying Community.  S.1 would express a sense of the Senate that the lobbying community should develop proposals for the creation of several self-regulatory organizations.  These organizations could establish standards for lobbying in various areas, provide training for lobbyists on law, ethics, and reporting and disclosure requirements, create a third-party certification program that includes ethics training, disclose requirements to clients regarding fees and conflict of interest rules.

Section 234. Annual Ethics Committee Reports. S.1 would require the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and the Senate Ethics Committeeto issue an annual report by January 31 of each year disclosing the number of alleged violations of the Senate or House rules, including those received from third parties, fellow members or staff within each body, or inquiries made by members or staff of the respective ethics committee.  In addition, the report would include a list of the number of dismissed allegations, complaints for which preliminary inquires were conducted, complaints for which the staff recommended no further investigation, complaints for which the staff recommended a further investigation, the number of complaints dismissed for lack of substantial merit, the number of private or public letters of admonition, and the number of matters resulting in disciplinary action.

Subtitle C – Slowing the Revolving Door

Section 241. Amendments to Restrictions on Former Officers, Employees, and Elected Officials of the Executive and Legislation Branches.  S.1 would amend
18 U.S.C207 to expand the “cooling off” period for very senior executive branch personnel (Vice President, cabinet members, and certain presidential and vice presidential assistants) and for Members of Congress and elected officers from one year to two years.  During this period, former executive officials are prohibited from lobbying certain personnel in his/her former department or agency.  Similarly, former Members of Congress and elected officers are prohibited from lobbying any member, officer, office, or employee of Congress, without regard to which House the member served.

S.1 would also expand the scope of the “cooling off” period for senior Hill staff by restricting for one year post-employment lobbying of any Member, office, or employee of the entire House of Congress in which they worked.  Currently, senior staff is only prohibited from lobbying their former office.  As defined above with respect to the Senate rule, senior staff are persons compensated at a rate of more than 75 percent of a Member’s salary and employed more than 60 days. 

This section would take effect 60 days after the date of enactment of S.1.

 Subtitle D – Ban on Provision of Gifts or Travel by Lobbyists in Violation of the Rules of Congress

Section 251.  Prohibition on Provision of Gifts or Travel by Registered Lobbyists to Members of Congress and to Congressional Employees.  S.1 would add a section the LDA prohibiting a registered lobbyist from knowingly making a gift or providing travel to a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of Congress, unless the gift or travel may be accepted under the rules of House or Senate.

Subtitle E – Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress Act of 2007

Sections 262 and 263.  Establishment and Purpose of Commission.  S.1 would establish a Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress in the legislative branch to evaluate and report on the effectiveness, transparency, and adequacy of congressional ethics requirements and make necessary recommendations for their improvement. 

Section 264.  Composition of Commission.  The Commission would be comprised of 10 members, with the chair and vice chair being selected by agreement of the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate.  Two members would be appointed by the senior member of the Senate leadership of the Democratic Party, one of which would be a former member.  Two members would be appointed by the senior member of House leadership of the Democratic Party, one of which would be a former member.  The Republican Party in the House and Senate would get to appoint four members in an identical manner.  The commission, thus, will have five Democrats and five Republicans.  Appointees could not be an officer or employee of the Federal or a State or local government and should be prominent US citizens.  All members should be appointed 3 months after S.1‘s enactment, and the commission should begin meetings as soon as practicable.  Meetings would be convened upon the call of the chairman or a majority of its members.  Vacancies would be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. 

Section 265.  Functions of Commission.  The Commission would be required to submit to Congress a report containing such findings, conclusions and recommendations in keeping with its purpose, or other areas the commission unanimously votes to be relevant to its mandate. 

Section 266. Powers of Commission.  The Commission would be able to hold hearings, take testimony, receive evidence, and administer oaths.  The federal government would be required to furnish information requested by the Commission.  That being said, the Commission could not conduct law enforcement investigations, function as a court of law, or otherwise usurp the duties and responsibilities of the ethics committees of the House or Senate.

Section 267.  Administration.  Members of the Commission would receive no additional compensation for their participation.  Members would receive travel expenses and a per diem.  In addition to authorizations for administrative support, S.1 also authorizes and provides parameters for the Commission’s hiring of a staff director, additional staff, and experts and consultants. 

Section 268.  Security Clearances for Commission Members and Staff.  S.1 would authorize the issuance of appropriate security clearances for the Commission members and staff.

Section 269.  Commission Reports; Termination.  S.1 would require the Commission’s initial annual report to be filed by July 1, 2007, and annual reports thereafter.  Commissioners would be required to be available to provide testimony and disseminate the report for 60 days after submitting the annual report and the final report. 

The Commission would be required to file a final report five years after the date of S.1‘s enactment and then terminate 60 days after the final report is filed. 

Section 270. Funding. S.1 would authorize funding to carry out Title II of this Act, the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.

Legislative History

S.1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 was introduced on January 4, 2007 by Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid.  The bill is co-sponsored by 15 Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chairman of the Senate Rules CommitteeDiane Feinstein, and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Joseph Lieberman.  The bill is based on a S.2349, the 527 Reform Act of 2006, which passed the Senate on March 29, 2006, in the 109th Congress, on a 90-8 vote. 

On May 23, 2006, the House took up consideration of S.2349 and amended it in the form of a substitute by inserting the provisions of H.R.4975, the 527 Reform Act of 2006H.R.4975 had originally passed the House by unanimous consent on May 3.
S.2349, as amended,passed the House without objection.  On that same day, May 23, the Senate rejected the House amendment, requested a conference, and appointed conferees.  No further substantial action was taken until S.1 was introduced as the first bill of the 110th Congress. 

The Senate will begin consideration of S.1 on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 11:00 am.  Senators Feinstein and Lieberman will serve as managers.  The legislation is expected to be covered on the floor for two weeks.

Expected Amendments

Numerous amendments are expected to be offered to S.1.  The legislation has used the text of S.2349 as a starting point. 

On the first day of debate, Senators Reid and McConnell offered a S.Amdt.3, a substitute amendment, which strengthens some of the ethics rules and lobbying reforms in S.1.  The amendment would:

  • Sharpen the definition of earmarks to ensure fuller disclosure;
  • Add a new point of order against provisions that have been changed after a majority of Senate conferees have signed the report;
  • Express a Sense of the Senate that conference committees should hold public meetings;
  • Ensure that sporting and entertainment tickets and benefits are valued appropriately;
  • Narrow the exemption in the statutory lobby ban for staffers hired by Indian tribes;
  • Prohibit members of Congress from negotiating for lobbying jobs while in office; requires senior staff to notify the Ethics Committee when they are negotiating for outside employment;
  • Require Congressional Budget Office scores for all conference reports;
  • Require lobbyists to disclose contributions to Presidential libraries and inaugural committees;
  • Streamline new reporting requirements into quarterly filings and ensures that all lobbyists file these new reports; requires lobbyists to certify quarterly that they have not provided, requested, or directed gifts or travel in violation of Senate ethics rules; and
  • Add criminal penalties for violation of lobbying disclosure rules which are part of a broader scheme of corruption. 

Senator Reid then offered S.Amdt.4 to S.Amdt.3 which offers three additional provisions.  S.Amdt.4 would:

  • Broaden the gift ban to prohibit gifts from companies and other entities that hire or retain lobbyists;
  • Broaden the travel ban to prohibiting congressional travel paid for by companies and other entities that hire or retain lobbyists.  The amendment would provide exceptions for one day participation at events (speech, conference, convention) and for de minimus lobbyist involvement.  The amendment would also require advance approval by the Ethics Committee for all privately-funded travel, pursuant to guidelines issued by the Committee; and
  • Require Senators to pay the full charter fare when they travel on private aircraft for official, officially-connected, and campaign travel.

As amendments are offered and accepted, the DPC will update this Legislative Bulletin.  Amendments offered by Senators will also be distributed through the Rules and Governmental Affairs listservs.

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