Whip Says Bill is a Hollow Shell
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today on the House Floor in opposition to the Republicans' Sham Lobbying "Reform" Bill:
"Mr. Speaker, who do our Republican friends believe they are fooling today with this so-called lobbying 'reform' bill? I submit: not a soul. Certainly not the American people. And, certainly not editorial writers who have examined this legislation.
"The San Antonio News Express calls the Republican bill 'a disgraceful sham.' The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls it 'miserable.' The Philadelphia Inquirer says 'the House is just playing pretend.' The New York Times calls it 'an Orwellian shell of righteous platitudes about transparency and integrity.' And, public interests groups have derided this republican bill as a 'complete joke,' 'a total scam,' and 'phony.'
"Let no one here be mistaken: this bill is not driven by a desire to address the most serious lobbying and ethics scandal this body has experienced in a generation. I have said before and I repeat today: the failures in ethics and honesty have been of conduct, not of rules. But rules can both inform of expectations and propriety.
"The greed and flagrant abuses of convicted felons, former Republican member Duke Cunningham and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, hang over this house like a dark cloud. The 'K Street' Project proudly promoted by Tom Delay, Rick Santorum and the Republican Leadership - in which quid pro quo was the blatantly articulated standard of conduct - is the most flagrant example of the aptly named 'culture of corruption.'
"This empty shell of a bill is driven by one thing: the majority's cynical calculation that it will not pay a price with voters this November for failing to take any meaningful step to end this culture of corruption.
"The Chairman of the Rules Committee was quoted as saying that the adoption of a reform package 'would get this [the repeated incidences of rules violations and criminal conduct] behind us.' The adoption of this bill or any bill will not do that. Only honest, ethical, principled behavior over a period of time will do that. But a strong reform package would have been a start. Sadly, that is not an option before us.
"We have a moral responsibility to demand and ensure ethical and honest behavior by all of us - not by an endless political game of cross-claims and allegations but by an Ethics Committee that does not shun its responsibilities and sit moribund in the face of scandal after scandal. The people expect more of us. And, we should expect more of ourselves.
"It may be fitting that this 'Do-Less-Than-The-Do-Nothing-Republican-Congress-of-1948' is forcing members to vote on this do-almost-nothing bill. The American people see right through this ruse.
"Lobbyists must be required to act honestly and ethically. But, it is members who have sworn an oath before god and our fellow citizens to uphold the laws and protect the Constitution. It is members who bear the direct responsibility for the honest administration of the people's business. This Congress is not meeting that responsibility.
"It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that the Republican Leadership does not want a real debate on these issues. Democrats offered a much stronger alternative, but the majority refused to allow it to be considered. So much for openness, transparency and democracy. I urge my colleagues: vote against this Republican ruse."