Friday, January 19, 2007

Reducing corruption?

The amount of money spent on earmarks ("public" projects, funded on govt money, in Senators' hometowns) reached totaled $47 billion in 2005 alone. From Teapot Museums to the Bridge to Nowhere, your representatives have effectively wasted your money. The earmarks are often sneaked into larger bills which are guaranteed to pass. The S.1 bill was drafted into order to put an end to extravagant earmarks and a number of other corrupt acts occurring in Congress. Last week, the bill passed 96 to 2. This sounds good in writing, but we'll to wait to see the actual results in Congress.

Taken from The Library of Congress

Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 - Authorizes a point of order by any Senator against consideration of a conference report that includes any matter not committed to the conferees by either chamber.

Adds Rule XLIV (Earmarks) to the Standing Rules of the Senate to make it out of order to consider any Senate bill, amendment, or conference report, unless a list of all its earmarks, the identity of the Member or Members proposing them, and an explanation of their essential governmental purpose, along with any associated joint statement of managers, is made available to all Members, and to the general public on the Internet, for at least 48 hours before its consideration.

Amends Rule XXVIII (Conference Committee; Reports; Open Meetings) to make it out of order to consider a conference report unless it is available to all Members and the general public on the Internet for at least 48 hours before its consideration.

Amends Rule XXIII (Privilege of the Floor) to deny floor privileges (except for ceremonial functions and events) to former Senators and Senators elect, Secretaries, Sergeants at Arms of the Senate, and Speakers of the House of Representatives if they: (1) are registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal; or (2) are in the employ of or represent any party or organization for the purpose of influencing, directly, or indirectly, the passage, defeat, or amendment of any legislative proposal.

Amends Rule XXXV (Gifts) to exclude gifts from lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal from the gift ban exceptions.

Requires a Member, officer, or employee, before accepting otherwise permissible transportation or lodging from any person other than a governmental entity, to obtain a written certification from such person that includes certain disclaimers regarding a registered lobbyist or foreign agent. Prescribes additional disclosure requirements, including certain information regarding noncommercial air travel.

Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require a publicly available report, in the case of a principal campaign committee of a federal candidate (other than one for President or Vice President), of any flight taken by the candidate on an aircraft not licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate for compensation or hire.

Amends Rule XXXVII (Conflict of Interest) to impose a one-year lobbying moratorium, upon leaving such position, on any employee on the staff of a Member or on the staff of a committee meeting specified rate of pay and congressional employment criteria.

Prohibits a Senator from directly negotiating or having any arrangement concerning prospective private employment until after the election for his or her successor has been held, unless public disclosure of such employment negotiations and arrangements is provided.

Requires a Member to prohibit all of his or her staff from having any official contact with the Member's spouse or immediate family member if such individual is a registered lobbyist or is employed or retained by a registered lobbyist to influence legislation.

Amends Rule XLIII (Representation by Members) to prohibit a Member, with the intent to influence on the basis of partisan political affiliation an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity, from: (1) taking or withholding, or offering or threatening to take or withhold, an official act; or (2) influencing, or offering or threatening to influence, the official act of another.

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