Senate Democrats

Democrats: It’s Time to Reform Washington

America can do Better than a Culture of Cronyism and Corruption

Washington, DC – Today, Democratic leaders joined together to call for new reforms that will hold the government accountable and end the culture of cronyism and corruption that pervades Washington.

“We’re going to reform Washington. After years of Republican scandals and abuses of power, it’s a big task. But the American people are demanding change,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “They know America can do better. We know America can do better. And together, we will.”

Senator Mark Pryor, along with Senator Byron Dorgan, will lead the Senate Democrats’ “Responsible Governance” effort, which will close the revolving door that puts special interests before the people’s interests. This effort will tighten restrictions on lobbyists; put an end to the culture of corruption; and increase transparency in governance.

“The stories that come out of Washington feed the public opinion that Congress is not working for them. The American people are demanding more transparency in their government and we must send the message through our actions that the American government is not for sale,” Pryor said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to change the culture of Washington by placing public service over politics and replacing corruption and cronyism with good government reforms.”

“Over the last ten years, K Street has become the back office of the Republican-controlled Congress, creating too many cozy relationships with the corporate lobbyists and driving an agenda that has everything to do with special interests and nothing to do with the people’s interests,” said Congressman Emanuel. “Congress has taken action to clean up corporate boardrooms and professional sports – it’s high time we commit to reforming the laws governing the relationship between lobbyists and Congress and restore public confidence in the body politic. The American people deserve a government as good as its people, with an agenda that moves us forward and improves the quality of life for average Americans.”



America Can Do Better

The American people deserve a government as good at its people. These days, the American people look at Washington and they see corruption and cronyism run amok. With each passing day, additional reports of fraud, waste and abuse are made public and indictments are handed down. They are tired of special interest giveaways at the expense of the American people. Democrats are tired of the corruption too and that is why they are offering new ideas to clean up Washington. Together we can do better and that is why it is time to reform government and make it work for the people again.


Stop the Revolving Door’s Swing to K Street. Democrats want to increase the cooling off period before government employees can lobby their former colleagues. Democrats also want to require public disclosure by Members of Congress’s engagement in employment negotiations. Slowing down the revolving door will give the people’s interests a better chance to rise to the top of Congress’s priorities.

Keep the Lobbyists off the Floors of Congress. When a member goes from the halls of Congress to offices of a lobbying firm they should lose their privileges to walk onto the floor of the Senate and House. Former members should not be using their special privileges to peddle special interests on the floors of the United States Congress.

Stop Members from Unethically Influencing Outside Firms in Exchange for Access. It is wrong for a member of Congress to threaten an organization with reduced access to their office or other retribution in order to get jobs for their own partisan loyalists.

Hold K Street Accountable. More must be done to hold lobbyists accountable and increase transparency so the American people know who is influencing the laws that affect them. Democrats will accomplish this by requiring more frequent filing of lobbying disclosure reports which would be available on the internet; increasing lobbyist disclosure of former executive branch and congressional employment; requiring greater disclosure of grassroots lobbying campaigns run by paid lobbyists; and increasing penalties for violating lobbying disclosure rules.


Put Experts in Charge. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina brought to light the critical importance of having experts in charge of public safety positions. Democrats will require candidates for public safety positions to possess credentials relevant to the position, a superior record of achievement in those areas and training and experience relevant to the position

Stop the Patronage. In order to ensure that qualified Americans are running our government, Democrats will require a review of the number and responsibilities of all political appointees in the executive branch and determination of whether those functions should be assumed by career civil servants