A bill setting financial disclosure requirements for high-ranking members of the executive and judicial branches and codifying into law disclosure rules for members of the legislative branch passed the House yesterday by a 368-to-30 vote.
Called the ethics in government bill, the measure puts the finishing touches to a new ethics code Congress imposed on itself last year. The Senate has passed a similar bill and the measure now goes to a House-Senate conference to work out differences.
Though House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) made the ethics code one of his top priorities, a backlash against some of the revisions held up passage of the bill in the House until now, when the pressure of upcoming elections made it difficult to vote against it.
Specifically, some House members balked at a 15 percent limit ($.625) on outside income they could earn over and above their $57,000 annual salary. Though opponents succeeded in demanding a vote on repealing that limit, the repeal effort lost 290-to-97 when the House considered the bill last week.
Yesterday, Rep. John M. Ashbrook (R-Ohio) tried to extend the 15 percent earned income limit to members fo the executive branch, but his effort was amended to affect only full-time presidential employes, who number about 750. Congressional sources said these appointees are already prohibited by executive order from accepting honorariums and from serving on corporate boards and by custom from accepting other forms of outside income, so the amendment has little effect.
The requirement to make public a financial disclosure statement including sources of income, gifts over $100 in value, liabilities and investments affects all members of Congress, members of the executive and judicial branches, and congressional staff paid at a rate of GS 16 ($42,500) and above.