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Cornyn seeks greater transparency in legislative process

Introduces two amendments to Lobbying & Ethics Reform package

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

January 24, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—Building on his record as a strong advocate for open government, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, introduced two important amendments to the lobbying and ethics reform legislation under consideration by the Senate this week. Sen. Cornyn’s amendments are aimed at providing a longer public review process before legislation is voted on and providing additional information on the financial costs of any earmarks included in appropriations bills. The Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Cornyn’s amendments in the week ahead.

“I am a strong believer that when debating the important issue of ethics in government, sunlight is perhaps the best disinfectant of all,” Sen. Cornyn said today. “Our founders understood a free society could not exist without informed citizens and an open, accessible government. The more information that we can put in the hands of the American people about what Congress does on a daily basis, the stronger our democracy will be.”

Noting that an “astonishing” 64 bills were considered by the Senate on just the final day of the 109th Congress, Sen. Cornyn said, “Although a number of these bills are often non-controversial, others can include costs of millions of taxpayer dollars. At a minimum, Senators and the American public should have the time to do their due diligence and carefully scrutinize a bill before it is considered. That is both common-sense and good government. I am hopeful that my colleagues will include these two amendments in this larger reform bill in the days ahead.”

Summary of Cornyn Transparency Amendments to “S. 1 – Legislative Transparency Act of 2007”

1. Transparency and Notice Before Proceeding Amendment - This amendment requires that there be notice and review by Senators and the general public before the Senate proceed to a legislative matter or a measure. Specifically, it requires that a Senator give three days notice of intent to proceed and three days advance review of the legislative language in the Congressional Record prior to the Senate proceeding. It further requires that legislation be publicly available in a searchable format for at least two days before proceeding to the measure. Finally, it also addresses the situation of substitute amendments by requiring that they also be made available in advance.

2. Earmark Transparency and Baseline Amendment - This amendment requires greater specificity with respect to the actual cost of earmarks and creates a baseline for future analysis, review and rule-making. Specifically, it requires that in addition to the underlying bill/substitute’s language requiring a list of earmarks and the Senators requesting them, that there be included the following:

• A list of each earmark, limited tax benefit or tariff benefit in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers along with:

i. its specific budget, contract or other spending authority or revenue impact;

ii. an identification of the Member of Members who proposed it;

iii. an explanation of the essential governmental purpose for it, including how it advances the ‘general Welfare’ of the United States of America;

• The total number of earmarks, limited tax benefits or tariff benefits in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers; and a calculation of the total budget, contract or other spending authority or revenue impact of all the congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits or tariff benefits in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers.

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