By Edward Lee Pitts
WASHINGTON —; Democrats and watchdog groups called the ethics reform bill that passed on a 217-213 House vote today a sham, while area Republicans said it is a good first step.
The lobbying reform measure, introduced in response to ethics violations by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, would overhaul congressional lobbying practices but is not as comprehensive as a Senate bill passed early this year, lawmakers said.
The bill would require lobbyists to file quarterly reports rather than semiannually. It would make lobbyists disclose gifts they provide to lawmakers and their staff, establish mandatory ethics training for staff and require that appropriation bills list any earmarks in the bill.
“I’m ready to vote on a lobbying reform bill, but I’m not sure we have one,” said Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn. “We need a true lobbying reform bill.”
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said House Republican leaders told members of the Appropriations Committee that a compromise version of the Senate and House bills would be more comprehensive.
“This bill is not an end-all, but it is a step in the right direction,” he said. “Clearly I think we could still do more.”
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