(Senate - March 06, 2006)

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[Pages S1759-S1760]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, today the Senate is taking another step 
forward to make our Government more transparent and more accountable. 
It will be a very important debate on very substantive issues, issues 
that affect the operation of this body and our relationships to outside 
  We will begin debate on the comprehensive lobbying and ethics reform 
legislation. Over the last few months, we have made steady progress.
  The Senate was first to develop a plan. It was the first to establish 
a working group to examine the issue. It was the first to hold 
committee hearings and to have a markup--two markups. And today we will 
be the first to

[[Page S1760]]

bring a comprehensive lobbying reform package to the floor.
  I wish to in particular thank our colleague from Pennsylvania, 
Senator Santorum, for his willingness to lead a lobbying reform working 
group. He has hosted numerous meetings over the last several weeks and 
spent countless hours on this issue. We are where we are today in large 
part because of his commitment and his leadership. I wish to recognize 
him for that.
  I also appreciate the work of the chairman and chairwoman of our 
Rules Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 
Committee, Chairman Lott and Chairman Collins. They have worked 
expeditiously, both in discussions and holding hearings and markups, so 
we could in response to my request have available for floor 
consideration today legislation that centers on commonsense reform. 
There will be a lot of debate and there will be a lot of discussion, 
but I think the issues have been laid out and laid out well. Those two 
chairmen will be comanaging the bill from our side of the aisle, since 
each of those committees brought forth that legislation from their 
respective committees.

  So that everyone understands how we expect to proceed, we will begin 
debate on S. 2349, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act. 
The first amendment offered will be a substitute, incorporating the 
joint text of both the bills reported by the Rules Committee and by the 
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
  I have asked the two managers to move forward in as efficient a way 
as we possibly can in order to achieve that goal of completing this 
legislation this week. It is going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of 
working together, and a lot of cooperation in order to accomplish that. 
Chairman Lott and Chairman Collins are committed to this timeframe. I 
encourage all of our colleagues to work with them to ensure that we can 
accomplish this goal.
  If Senators have amendments--and I recognize there will be a number 
of amendments--I urge them to discuss those amendments, the nature of 
those amendments, and make the language available as soon as possible 
with the managers. Let us keep amendments on the issue that is at hand, 
the issues surrounding ethics and lobbying. Tying up the bill with 
unrelated amendments, which we call nongermane amendments, is not in 
anybody's best interest. So let us stay on the bill as much as we 
possibly can.
  A final note. As we enter the debate--I think we will enter it--we 
are entering it in a tone of working together. It is not a partisan 
issue we are addressing. People expect us to work together to develop 
meaningful, nonpartisan solutions but bipartisan solutions to the real 
problems we know we will be addressing. Ethics is not a partisan issue. 
The rules apply, as they should, to every Senator and every staff 
member, regardless of party or stripe. No one gets a special exception.
  That is the spirit in which we should approach this bill.
  The rules we operate under are bipartisan. The reforms indeed are and 
should be bipartisan as well. It is my firm belief that as public 
servants we are obligated to protect the integrity of this fantastic, 
magnificent institution, and most importantly to represent the genuine 
interests of the voters--which is our responsibility--who sent us here.
  It is time for us to reexamine the rules so that bad apples are 
exposed before they spoil the whole lot. That is why I have brought 
this bill to the floor now so we can address it right up front early on 
in this session. Taking these steps will go a long way to lifting the 
cloud that threatens to obscure all of our other efforts to offer 
meaningful reforms and solutions to the problems we now face and that 
face all Americans.
  The issue is something very personal to me. I still consider myself a 
citizen legislator, coming here for a period of time and going back 
home. It causes me to reflect on my first vote as a Senator. It was on 
the Congressional Accountability Act, an act that ensures that Congress 
abides by the laws it passes.
  I believe deeply that we serve the people--not the other way around, 
and that spirit will be the spirit I believe we will all put forth in 
this debate over the next several days.
  We have a real opportunity before us--an opportunity to make 
government more transparent, more accountable, and to strengthen the 
American people's confidence in our body. Once again, I ask my 
colleagues to join together and deliver meaningful reforms, not only to 
fulfill our commitment to the American people but to protect and 
preserve the honor of this great institution we all have the privilege 
of serving.
  I yield the floor.