WASHINGTON - January 18 - One day before former Republican congressman Bob Ney is sentenced to prison for corruption, Senate Republicans en masse voted late Wednesday night to kill the lobbying and ethics reform bill (S. 1). Public Citizen condemns the Senate Republican caucus for once again undermining legislation to bring civility and ethics back to Capitol Hill and strongly urges the Republican caucus to heed the public’s will, withdraw its tactical poison pill from the Senate lobbying and ethics reform package and begin to clean up Washington.
“The American public is disgusted with corruption, scandal and Congress itself,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “This type of trickery by Senate Republicans reminds us all why.”
Following the same procedural trick congressional Republicans used last year to kill lobbying and ethics reform, Senate Republicans – led by the long-standing opponent to any campaign finance and ethics reform legislation, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – introduced an unrelated line-item veto amendment to the reform bill and then cast a vote to stop the entire bill when the amendment was not accepted.
“There is no hiding behind parliamentary procedures,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Senate Republicans want to kill ethics reform, plain and simple.”
Last year, congressional Republicans killed lobbying and ethics reform legislation when their unrelated amendment to control Section 527 political organizations was not accepted. This year, they are attempting to stop the reform legislation by tying it up with an amendment to provide President Bush with a line-item veto over appropriations bills.
All Senate Democrats and two Senate Republicans – Gordon Smith (R-N.H.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) – voted last night to bring the lobbying and ethics reform package to a vote. All other Senate Republicans voted against consideration of the bill, which required a two-thirds vote of approval. It takes 66 votes to overcome a filibuster of a rules package; the final vote was 51 to 46.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will call for reconsideration of the ethics bill once again today. Public Citizen encourages Reid and the supporters of S. 1 to keep bringing the reform legislation back to the floor until the Republicans get the message that the Senate must take a meaningful stand against the corruption, scandal and undeserved privilege on Capitol Hill.