The Corner

Speaker Hastert Comments On Lobbying Reform

(Washington, D.C.) Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) today issued the following remarks during a press conference regarding upcoming lobbying reform package:

“As you all know, we have been working hard on developing a plan for comprehensive lobbying reform. Chairman David Dreier, who is here with me, has been leading this effort. You will hear from him shortly, but I want to thank him now, publicly, for his willingness to step forward as we move aggressively to reform lobbying in the House of Representatives.

“There has been a lot of discussion lately about the need for lobbying reform here in Washington. I have been deeply disturbed by those who have broken the rules of this House and in some instances have pleaded guilty to breaking the law.

“As Speaker of this House, I want to make one thing clear, it is not acceptable for anyone to break the rules of the House or the law. And if they have, they should be held to account.

“While the problems we have all been reading about stem from violation of existing rules, I believe that to regain the trust of the American people in this institution we must go further than prosecuting the bad actors.

“We need to reform the rules so that it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what is ethically acceptable for Members of the House of Representatives and their staff.

“As I said recently, I want the House to move quickly and in a bipartisan fashion to get this done. We have a duty to do everything we can to keep the trust and confidence of our constituents. In a moment, Chairman Dreier will walk you through the outline of a proposal we will introduce when the House returns. But let me highlight two parts of that plan that I believe will put us on the right track.

“First, we must ban privately sponsored travel in the House of Representatives. I know fact-finding trips are important. This body considers legislation that affects people that cannot always travel to Washington to petition their government. Private travel has been abused by some, and I believe we need to put an end to it.

“Second, I think we need to tighten even further the gift rules. A Member of Congress should be able to accept a ball cap or a t-shirt from the proud students at a local middle school, but he or she doesn’t need to be taken to lunch or dinner by a lobbyist.

“Recent months have shown that we need a more transparent system. Our plan dramatically increases the reporting of lobbyist activities.

“Comprehensive lobbying reform is the right thing to do. Chairman Dreier has been reaching out to Senator McCain and other reform leaders and we are incorporating much of their ideas in our proposal.

“We have a full agenda immediately following the State of the Union Address, and it includes the Deficit Reduction Act, the Patriot Act, immigration reform and enacting lobbying reform.

“It is a full plate, but I am confident we will get it done and then move on to other legislative priorities which will help keep our economy strong, our job base growing and our nation secure.”

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