In July 2005, I introduced a comprehensive
ethics and lobbying reform bill in the Senate. Later that
same year, in December 2005, the indictment of Jack Abramoff
put the issue of reform on the front burner in Congress. Joined
by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), and others,
I pushed for tough legislation to seriously change the way
Washington works. Unfortunately, the congressional leadership
at the time talked a good game, but was not really committed
to reform. The bill that passed the Senate in May 2006 fell
far short of what was needed to end some of the worst abuses
in Washington. I opposed that bill, which later stalled in
In November 2006, fed up with lobbying scandals and Congress’s
failure to take action, the American people voted for change.
When a new Congress took office in 2007, I continued pushing
for real lobbying and ethics reform that holds elected officials
to the highest ethical standards. Senator Obama and I introduced
a bill containing far-reaching reforms in January based on
my 2005 proposal.
In the summer of 2007, Congress finally passed the Honest
Leadership and Open Government Act (“HLOGA”). I played a major
role in crafting this bill. It contains many provisions from
my 2005 proposal and from the Feingold-Obama 2007 legislation.
On September 14th, 2007, the president signed the bill into
The bill curbs lobbyists’ gifts and privately funded travel,
slows the revolving door between Congress and lobbying groups,
improves lobbying disclosure, prohibits elaborate parties
for members of Congress at party conventions, and does away
with secret holds used by senators to block legislation anonymously.
The bill has been called “a major accomplishment” and its
reforms were hailed as “the most important lobbying and ethics
reforms since the Watergate era” by a non-partisan coalition
of watchdog groups including Democracy 21, Common Cause, the
Campaign Legal Center, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen
and U.S. PIRG.
The enactment of HLOGA was a historic step towards ensuring
Congress is working to advance the interests of the American
people, not those of well-connected lobbyists in Washington.
Get more information on the legislation I introduced from
Reduction - Congressional Pay Raise