Dem Support For "Very Small Step" Towards Lobbying Reform

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who was one of eight Democrats to vote for the lobbying reform bill which passed in the House yesterday by four votes, explained his vote in a released statement.
After months of nothing but talk, the House of Representatives has finally taken its first step toward cleaning up the mess in Washington. But this bill is only a very small step in the right direction – not the comprehensive ethics reform we need to pass if Congress ever hopes to regain the people’s trust.

If the folks in charge of Congress are serious about rooting out corruption, we’re going to need to pass a bill that’s a whole lot tougher than this. We need a high-powered pressure washer. But today, all we got was a dusty old broom. No one should be overly optimistic about what this bill will do.

This should be our starting point for the next round of reforms, not an endgame. Even a trip of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and in this case even a small step closer to good government is better than the status quo.  


Legislation to Reauthorize Voting Rights Act Introduced

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) introduced legislation to reauthorize portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were set to expire next year. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) spoke about the importance of the legislation
The Voting Rights Act is the most important Civil Rights legislation of the 20th Century...It enforced the 15th Amendment, ensuring that all Americans could enjoy the most basic right of citizens in a democracy – the right to vote. Unfortunately, even in the 21st Century we continue to see attempts to disenfranchise minority voters. We cannot permit the Voting Rights Act to expire and leave the next generation of Americans without full protection for their voting rights.

Lobbying Reform Bill a Ruse, a Sham, and a Shame

The Washington Post called this bill a ruse, House Democrats call it a sham, and for the American people, it's a shame. When the energy companies write the energy bill, we have gasoline that costs $3 a gallon; when pharmaceutical companies write the Medicare prescription drug bill, we have a bill full of giveaways to cronies, but nothing for America's seniors; when lobbyists write the lobbying reform bill, we end up with a ruse that winks at reform and does nothing to curtail the culture of corruption.

Democrats offered real reform legislation and Republicans voted it down. It is clear that Republicans don't want to end the culture of corruption because they continue to benefit from it.   


Blunt Praises Bipartisan Passage of Lobbying Reform Legislation

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) commended the bipartisan passage of the lobbying reform bill today. The legislation passed by a vote of 217 to 213 with 8 Democrats voting for the bill, while 20 Republicans voted against the legislation.
This legislation will hold lobbyists and Members accountable for their actions...The Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act will help restore Americans' trust in their legislature, and I'm pleased a bipartisan group voted to solve a bipartisan problem

Bush Disregards Economic Plight of Americans

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) criticized the Bush Administration for fiscal policies which resulted in decreases in personal income and increasing budget deficits.
President Bush displayed today why Americans are now giving him the lowest ratings of his presidency on his handling of the economy: He, along with Congressional Republicans, refuses to acknowledge and address the economic challenges being faced by American families. Under President Bush, median household income has decreased by $1,670 and the number of Americans living without health insurance has increased by 6 million. At the same time, American families are faced with skyrocketing prices at the pump and soaring health care costs.


Feinstein, Boxer Defeat Coburn Amendment

Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) successfully fought off an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to strip money from the Senate Supplemental bill for repair of California levees. Boxer said
Senator Coburn said we ‘made some really good points.’ Well, the point is that we simply cannot take the risk of ignoring vulnerabilities in our flood control infrastructure after we have seen Katrina and the direct results of infrastructure deterioration


Dems Obstructionist on Refinery Expansion

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) labeled Democrats obstructionist for blocking passage of a bill that would expand oil refinery production.
House Republicans today took action to move forward on legislation that will expand our nation’s refining capacity and lessen our dependence on foreign oil, but 185 Democrats voted to block progress on lowering the price of gas. The American people are paying the price at the gas pump, and it’s time for the House Democrats to join our effort to provide relief.

We have not built a new refinery in the United States in the past 30 years. We need action to increase our domestic ability to refine oil. This issue is not going away, and I challenge the Democrats to join us as we continue to work to ease the burden gas prices have placed on Americans.


Collaborative Approach To Increase Domestic Supply of Oil

My bill would coordinate a badly disjointed process for seeking approval to build new biofuel, gasoline, or diesel refineries in the United States.

We should assist local, state, and federal officials in confronting the confusing and sometime contradictory regulations, approval timelines, and permits required by dozens of regulatory agencies. Managing the process collaboratively would also result in greater public transparency and adherence to the critical environmental reviews and assessments that are required.

Our motor fuel supplies continue to be too tight to meet the demand of America and we need to address the situation comprehensively by increasing domestic production, supporting the transition to renewable biofuels, and promoting greater conservation.  



Republicans, Oil Companies To Blame For High Gas Prices

While there has been a decrease in the number of refineries, this is due to increasing market concentration resulting from refinery mergers. Thus, big oil, and not environmental or public health laws are to blame for fewer, but bigger refineries. If the Republicans want someone to blame for the shortage of refinery capacity and high gas prices they should try looking at themselves and taking responsibility their failed energy policy.

Need For Legislation To Bring Light to Corporate Compensation

When you start talking about compensation making up 12% of corporate profits, you're talking about real money, amounts of money so large that they are drains on the economy, so of course there would be less money to deal with pensions, healthcare, or other factors.

What we are doing, we are not telling the stockholder what they can and cannot do, but we think they should be able to vote on it, on such compensation.