House Passes Ethics Bill by Large Margin

Posted July 31, 2007 at 12:07pm

House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a sweeping ethics and lobbying reform package Tuesday, setting up a Senate vote later this week.

Despite complaints from Republicans that the latest measure stripped some GOP-authored reforms from the version lawmakers passed in May, all but two GOP Members crossed the aisle to support final passage. The House voted 411-8 to approve the measure.

Six Democrats — Reps. Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Allen Boyd (Fla.), William Lacy Clay (Mo.), Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.), John Murtha (Pa.) and John Tanner (Tenn.) — joined Republican Reps. Joe Barton (Texas) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) in opposition.

The measure was negotiated behind closed doors by House and Senate Democratic leaders after Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) blocked conference talks to try to force the Senate to adopt tougher earmark transparency rules.

Outside reform advocates have praised the package as a major step forward in tightening ethics rules and shining new light on the ties between lawmakers and lobbyists.

But a number of conservative Republican Senators — led by DeMint and backed by budget watchdog groups and conservative commentators — are criticizing what they call its weakened earmark disclosure language. They are expected to oppose a procedural motion to limit Senate debate on the measure when it hits the Senate floor, most likely on Thursday.

— Tory Newmyer