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Senate passes limited lobbying reform bill

[JURIST] The US Senate voted 90-8 [roll call] late Wednesday to approve a lobbying reform bill pushed through in the wake of a corruption scandal [Wikipedia backgrounder] centering on former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive], who was sentenced to a prison term [JURIST report] Wednesday in an unrelated Florida fraud case. Under the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 [PDF], lawmakers would be prohibited from accepting gifts or meals from lobbyists, would be required to disclose paid-for travel on their websites, and would be banned from becoming lobbyists themselves for two years after leaving office, up from the current one. The lobbying reform package, the first to be approved by the Senate since 1995, nonetheless leaves out other proposals put on the table, such as the creation of an independent agency to oversee Congressional ethics issues. A coalition of reform groups, including Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and US PIRG, condemned the bill for its omissions, saying in a joint statement [text] that it "failed to address the biggest lobbying and ethics problems facing the Senate."

House Majority Leader John Boehner says he expects the House to take up the legislation in early April. Bloomberg has more.

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