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Congress Passes Ethics Overhaul Bill

Int'l Herald Tribune: The U.S. Senate has given final approval to a far-reaching package of new ethics and lobbying rules, with an overwhelming majo

senate.jpg Int'l Herald Tribune:

The U.S. Senate has given final approval to a far-reaching package of new ethics and lobbying rules, with an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats agreeing to better police the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists.

If President George W. Bush signs the bill into law, which administration officials indicated he would, members of Congress would face a battery of new restrictions. The legislation, approved by the Senate on Thursday on a vote of 83-14, calls for bans on gifts, meals and travel paid for by lobbyists and makes it more difficult for lawmakers to quickly capitalize on their connections when joining the private sector.

The measure, which grew out of scandals that have tarnished the image of Congress, represents a cultural shift in the traditions of Capitol Hill. While proponents hailed the measure as the most significant reform since Watergate, questions remained on how some provisions would be enforced and whether the measure would change lawmakers' ability to secure pet projects known as earmarks.

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