Major Provisions of the Lobbying Bill
Some major provisions of the lobbying and ethics overhaul bill that the Senate passed Wednesday:
- Bars senators from accepting gifts and meals from lobbyists.
- Requires advance approval from the ethics committee of any transportation or lodging provided by a private party. The party providing the transportation or lodging would have to certify that the trip was not financed by a registered lobbyist.
- Requires senators or staff who travel by private aircraft to file a disclosure report with the Secretary of the Senate identifying the purpose of the trip and the people on board.
- Requires senators involved in employment negotiations prior to the election of their successors to file a public disclosure statement with the Secretary of the Senate.
- Bans official contacts between a senator's staff and the senator's spouse or immediate family members registered as lobbyists.
- Requires mandatory ethics training for senators and staff.
- Extends from one year to two years the period a member of Congress or a senior executive branch official must wait before lobbying a former place of employment.
- Extends disclosure requirements to "grass-roots" lobbyists, those helping clients to encourage the general public, through mass mailings or advertising, to contact federal officials. Those paid less than $25,000 in a quarter are exempt.
- Bars senators from punishing or rewarding a lobbying firm based on the party affiliations of those they hire.
- Requires electronic filing of lobbying-disclosure reports on a quarterly basis, up from the current semiannual reporting.
- Requires lobbyists to make an annual disclosure of contributions to federal candidates, officeholders and political action committees.
- Increases the maximum civil fine for violations of lobbying statues from $50,000 to $100,000.
- Allows senators to raise a point of order against earmarks, or special projects, that were not in the original House or Senate version of a bill but later added in the House-Senate conference. Such points of order remove the earmark from the bill unless 60 senators vote to retain it.
- Ends the practice of secret "holds," whereby senators can single-handedly block action on a bill or nomination without revealing that they are the source of the hold.