U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said today that ethics legislation passed Thursday night “showed that Congress got the message that the November election was as much about the conduct of business in Washington as it was about the conduct of the war in Iraq.” The legislation requires greater transparency of earmarks in spending bills and bans gifts to Senators or their staffs by lobbyists. It also requires new disclosure of congressional earmarks so that the name of the senator who requested the funds will be known. Alexander voted in favor of the legislation which passed 96-2.
The Senate adopted an amendment co-sponsored by Alexander which made clear that the new restrictions will not interfere with grassroots organizations who petition Congress. “We made certain that our efforts to restrict unethical behavior did not interfere with the First Amendment right of citizens to petition government,” said Alexander.
Alexander commented that the ethics debate also produced "an important victory for restraining wasteful federal spending” by gaining agreement from the Democratic majority to set a vote next week on legislation Alexander is co-sponsoring that would grant the President legislative line item spending authority on pork barrel projects.
“There are plenty of forces here in Washington for increased spending,” Alexander said. “Giving the president the legislative line item veto would create an important new force to reduce spending. I had this authority when I was governor and I believe the President should have it, too."