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House postpones debate on lobbying reform

[JURIST] The Republican leadership of the US House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday postponed debate on the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 [HR 4975 summary] in order to allow more time for the bill's supporters to secure enough votes to pass the legislation. Congress has taken up lobbying reform in the wake of a federal corruption scandal [Wikipedia backgrounder] centering on former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive]. The House bill would require more frequent activity reports from lobbyists, strip lawmakers convicted on corruption charges of their retirement benefits, and require appropriations bills to list earmarks, special-interest provisions that legislators include in bills. Democrats have said that the proposal does not go far enough to put an end to lobbying abuses and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) [official website], chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday that the proposed earmark disclosures should also apply to tax and policy bills.

The Senate passed [JURIST report] a separate lobbying reform bill last month, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 [S 2349 summary], which further restricts gifts and meals members of Congress can accept from lobbyists and bans lawmakers from becoming lobbyists themselves for two years after leaving office, up from the current one. If the House passes the lobbying bill, the two versions will have to be reconciled by negotiators from both houses. AP has more.

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