House approves lobbyist reform

Capitol Hill

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Ethics reform has come to Washington. Again. The House passed a sweeping reform bill earlier today by a vote of 411 to 8. Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.


Steve Henn: Many good government groups are hailing the House-passed ethics bill as a major breakthrough.

Meredith McGehee is at the Campaign legal center:

Meredith McGehee: The three most important words associated with this bill are sortable, searchable and downloadable.

Lobbyists will have to disclose their contributions to charities with ties to members of Congress. And if they collect bundles of campaign contributions worth 15,000 or more, they'll have to disclose that, too.

And instead of filing these paper reports in the basement of the U.S. Capitol, all these records will be posted online.

McGehee: Information that has essentially been hidden from the public's eyes and only available to investigative reporters will be viewed by citizens who don't have the luxury of coming to the nation's capitol to find it out.

But not everyone's a fan of the bill. A group of conservative senators is calling it a cop-out.

Sen. Tom Colburn: I'm going to try to amend it, and I going to try to filibuster it, and I'm going to try to change it.

Senator Tom Colburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, says the bill gutted provisions that would force members to reveal their support for earmarked spending on pet projects.

South Carolina's Jim DeMint agrees:

Jim DeMint: Most of the corruption problems that we've have in Congress can be directed right back to earmarks.

McGehee admits the bill is not perfect, but:

McGehee: We are in kind of that make it or break it moment. Either this gets sent to Bush, or we're in a world of hurt where the reform is going to be significantly weaker.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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