Today I’m proud to say that just a short while ago, the House voted overwhelmingly, 411 to 8, to approve the Honest Leadership, Open Government Act of 2007.
I was proud to unveil this legislation all the way back in February 2006, standing alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Harry Reid, and Senator Barack Obama. Our opposition to public corruption became a centerpiece of the election and a key issue that helped bring our new majority to power.
Once we assumed power in January, one of our first priorities was ending the culture of corruption in Congress and cleaning up our own House. You can see that in the Honest Leadership, Open Government Act of 2007 (more information from the Speaker's Office here).
Frankly, it’s hard to believe that some of these provisions in the didn’t exist before, like the prohibition on Members from threatening official retaliation against private firms that hire employees who do not share the Member’s partisan political affiliation. Think about that. We had to write into law a ban on threatening reprisals against firms that don’t hire members of their party because it had become such a common practice under Republican control. We even had to author a provision that would close a loophole that allowed Members of Congress convicted of crimes to still collect their taxpayer funded pensions!
These are important reforms: no more corporate jets, no more gifts from lobbyists, no more free secret travel, all of which have been the subject of previous abuses. And the bill includes an increased emphasis on transparency - forcing disclosure of fundraising "bundlers," expanded public disclosure of lobbying activities, and numerous other reforms.
As many of you know, I’ve spent considerable time and energy over the last few years doing my best to bring this important issue to the netroots.
In the future, I hope we’ll be able to take further steps to ensure that your government works for you. But today was, as Common Cause called it, "a big step forward" in curbing the corruption and influence-peddling that was too often found in the halls of Congress.