Senator Collins’ Statement on Senate Approval of Ethics, Lobbying Reform Legislation

The U.S. Senate has approved an ethics and lobbying reform bill, of which Senator Collins voted in favor. Last year, Senator Collins, joined by Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) authored the original ethics and lobbying reform bill that overwhelming passed the Senate, but did not ultimately become law.

Following today’s passage of the ethics and lobbying reform bill, Senator Collins said, “I have long supported ethics and lobbying reform legislation. In fact, the Senate bill originated in the Senate Homeland Security Committee when I was Chairman and it passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks, instead of considering the ethics and lobbying reform bill through the regular conference process, Democratic leaders hijacked the process and met behind closed doors to draft a final bill. This secrecy is ironic given that the legislation is intended to bring more transparency to the legislative process. And unfortunately, the flawed process led to a bill with many flaws, most notably earmark reforms that are not nearly as strong as those included in the Senate bill.”

Senator Collins noted that despite weaknesses related to both the bill and process leading up to the final legislation, the bill does have some provisions that represent positive steps. For example, the bill requires more frequent filings under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and more detailed disclosure of lobbyist activities in those reports. In addition, it makes that information readily available to the public via the Internet. It also contains a change in the Senate rules that eliminates the undemocratic process of anonymous holds on Senate legislation, and is extends the waiting time between when a staffer or Senator leaves the Senate and when they can lobby that chamber.