< Back to H.R. 4988 (109th Congress, 2005–2006)

Text of the House Ethics Reform Act of 2006

This bill was introduced on March 16, 2006, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Mar 16, 2006 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 4988 IH

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4988

To amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to strengthen the ethics process, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 16, 2006

Mr. HEFLEY (for himself, Mr. HULSHOF, Mr. GUTKNECHT, Mr. LATOURETTE, Mr. JONES of North Carolina, Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota, Mr. ENGLISH of Pennsylvania, Mr. SHADEGG, Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania, Mr. BEAUPREZ, and Mr. UDALL of Colorado) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Rules, and in addition to the Committees on Standards of Official Conduct and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to strengthen the ethics process, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `House Ethics Reform Act of 2006'.

    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS-

      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

TITLE I--TRAINING

      Sec. 101. Mandatory annual ethics training;

      Sec. 102. Ethics officers.

TITLE II--ETHICS INVESTIGATION

      Sec. 201. Ethics investigatory powers and procedures.

      Sec. 202. Letters of admonition.

      Sec. 203. Due process rights of respondents.

      Sec. 204. Simplification of settlement during ethics process.

TITLE III--ETHICS COMMITTEE REFORM

      Sec. 301. Amendment to Code of Official Conduct to add the Code of Ethics for Government Service.

      Sec. 302. Renaming the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct the Ethics Committee.

      Sec. 303. Terms of service of chairman and ranking minority member of Ethics Committee.

      Sec. 304. Removal of chairman and ranking minority member of Ethics Committee.

      Sec. 305. Prohibited consultations.

      Sec. 306. Removal of Ethics Committee staff.

TITLE IV--TRAVEL

      Sec. 401. Required certification that congressional travel meets certain conditions.

      Sec. 402. Disclosure by lobbyists of activities related to congressional travel.

      Sec. 403. Enhanced travel records for privately-funded official travel.

      Sec. 404. Member and employee travel on corporate jets.

TITLE V--LOBBYISTS

      Sec. 501. Immediate electronic disclosure of lobbyist and foreign agent registrations.

TITLE VI--GIFT RULE

      Sec. 601. Disclosure of gifts.

TITLE VI--FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

      Sec. 701. Posting of lobbying registration and disclosure statements on House of Representatives Internet site.

TITLE I--TRAINING

SEC. 101. MANDATORY ANNUAL ETHICS TRAINING;

    Clause 3 of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`Ethics training

    `(r) Within 120 days after an individual takes office each Congress in the case of a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner or 120 days after the individual is appointed in the case of an officer, the Ethics Committee shall--

      `(1) provide comprehensive ethics training for each Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, and officer of the House; and

      `(2) provide regular comprehensive ethics training for each ethics officer.

    The committee shall maintain an up-to-date list on its website on the Internet of the names of all Members, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner who have received such training.'.

SEC. 102. ETHICS OFFICERS.

    Clause 3 of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives (as amended by section 101) is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`Ethics officers

    `(s)(1) Each Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, standing committee, and permanent select committee of the House shall--

      `(A) designate an employee to serve as the ethics officer for that office;

      `(B) notify the Ethics Committee of the name and e-mail address of the ethics officer; and

      `(C) notify the Ethics Committee whenever a new ethics officer is designated.

    `(2) Each ethics officer shall--

      `(A) certify to the Ethics Committee that ethics notices have been distributed to and received by each employee of the Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, standing committee, and permanent select committee of the House by whom such ethics officer is employed; and

      `(B) provide each employee and the Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or officer by whom such ethics officer is employed all pertinent information provided by the Ethics Committee at each regular ethics training session.

    Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to impose any liability on any ethics officer for any ethic violations of any such employee.'.

TITLE II--ETHICS INVESTIGATION

SEC. 201. ETHICS INVESTIGATORY POWERS AND PROCEDURES.

    Clause 3 of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives (as amended by section 102) is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`Investigatory powers and procedures

    `(s) The committee shall adopt rules to--

      `(1) authorize the chairman and ranking minority member of the committee the power to authorize and issue subpoenas after they jointly determine, pursuant to paragraph (k)(1), that information submitted to the committee meets the requirements of the rules of the committee for what constitutes a complaint and before the establishment of an investigative subcommittee or when the committee undertakes an investigation on its own initiative;

      `(2)(A) provide the committee with the authority to issue a Letter of Admonition to any Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House upon dismissal of a complaint, pursuant to paragraph (k)(1) or when the committee undertakes an investigation on its own initiative, after informal fact-finding or at the conclusion of an investigation as an additional alternative to a Letter of Reproval;

      `(B) require that each such Letter of Admonition includes the following statement: `Resolution of a complaint or investigation by a Letter of Admonition is appropriate where, according to the information before the committee, the respondent's conduct either violates or raises concerns under the Rules of the House of Representatives and standards of conduct, but the circumstances, including the completeness of the information before the committee and the nature of the violation, indicate that a formal investigation or sanction is not warranted.'; and

      `(C) provide that whenever the committee determines, by a majority vote, that there is evidence that a violation within the jurisdiction of the committee has occurred, but that the alleged violation is inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature, the committee may issue a public or private Letter of Admonition, which shall not be considered a sanction and which shall not be subject to appeal to the House.'.

SEC. 202. LETTERS OF ADMONITION.

    Clause 3(a) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

      `(6) At any time after receipt of information offered as a complaint pursuant to this clause or in the case of an investigation undertaken by the committee on its own initiative, the committee may, if it deems appropriate, issue a Letter of Admonition to the applicable Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House.'.

SEC. 203. DUE PROCESS RIGHTS OF RESPONDENTS.

    Clause 3(p) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (7), by striking the period and inserting `; and' at the end of subparagraph (8), and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

      `(9)(A) whenever the committee or an investigative subcommittee proposes to issue a letter (including a letter of admonition) or other document that includes comments critical of the conduct of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House, it shall provide prior notice and equal opportunity to respond;

      `(B) a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House has the right to notification of the decision of the committee to dismiss a complaint, send a letter pursuant to paragraph (k)(1)(A), create an investigative subcommittee, or any other committee action, including a report or letter that alleges that such individual has or may have violated the Code of Official Conduct; and

      `(C) a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall have 7 calendar days to respond in writing to any letter or notice provided pursuant to this subparagraph, and that any such response shall be appended to the report or letter.'.

SEC. 204. SIMPLIFICATION OF SETTLEMENT DURING ETHICS PROCESS.

    Clause 3(p) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives (as amended by section 303) is further amended by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (8), by striking the period and inserting `; and' at the end of subparagraph (9), and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

      `(10) a respondent may negotiate a settlement at any time after an investigation pursuant to a complaint or undertaken at its own initiative is undertaken by the committee.'.

TITLE III--ETHICS COMMITTEE REFORM

SEC. 301. AMENDMENT TO CODE OF OFFICIAL CONDUCT TO ADD THE CODE OF ETHICS FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICE.

    Rule XXIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by redesignating clause 14 as clause 15 and by inserting after clause 13 the following new clause:

    `14. A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House should:

      `(A) Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to Government, persons, party, or department.

      `(B) Uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and of all governments therein and never be a party to their evasion.

      `(C) Give a full day's labor for a full day's pay; giving to the performance of his duties his earnest effort and best thought.

      `(D) Seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.

      `(E) Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept, for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.

      `(F) Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since a Government employee has no private word which can be binding on public duty.

      `(G) Engage in no business with the Government, either directly or indirectly, which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his governmental duties.

      `(H) Never use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making private profit.

      `(I) Expose corruption wherever discovered.

      `(J) Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust.'.

SEC. 302. RENAMING THE COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS OF OFFICIAL CONDUCT THE ETHICS COMMITTEE.

    The Rules of the House of Representatives are amended by striking `Committee on Standards of Official Conduct' each place it appears and inserting `Ethics Committee'.

SEC. 303. TERMS OF SERVICE OF CHAIRMAN AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF ETHICS COMMITTEE.

    Clause 5(a)(3)(C) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by striking `fourth' and inserting `sixth' and by striking `five' and inserting `seven'.

SEC. 304. REMOVAL OF CHAIRMAN AND RANKING MINORITY MEMBER OF ETHICS COMMITTEE.

    Clause 5(a)(3) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new subdivision:

    `(D) The chairman or the ranking minority member of the Ethics Committee may be removed before the end of a Congress only by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total membership of the House.'.

SEC. 305. PROHIBITED CONSULTATIONS.

    Clause 3 of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives (as amended by section 301) is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`Prohibited consultations

    `(t) Neither the chairman nor the ranking minority member of the committee may consult or otherwise discuss with the Speaker or the majority or minority leader, or the staff of any such Member, any investigation by the committee (or any subcommittee thereof), including scheduling matters.'.

SEC. 306. REMOVAL OF ETHICS COMMITTEE STAFF.

    Clause 3(g)(3)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Any existing staff member may only not be rehired at the beginning of a Congress or may only be removed by the affirmative vote of a majority of the total membership of the committee.'.

TITLE IV--TRAVEL

SEC. 401. REQUIRED CERTIFICATION THAT CONGRESSIONAL TRAVEL MEETS CERTAIN CONDITIONS.

    Clause 5 of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by redesignating paragraphs (e) and (f) as paragraphs (g) and (h), respectively, and by inserting after paragraph (d) the following new paragraphs:

    `(e) Before a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may accept a gift of transportation or lodging permissible under this clause from any person, such Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House, as applicable, shall obtain a written certification from the Ethics Committee (and provide a copy of such certification to the Clerk) that--

      `(1) the trip was not planned, organized, arranged, or financed by a registered lobbyist or foreign agent and was not organized at the request of a registered lobbyist or foreign agent;

      `(2) the person did not accept, from any source, funds specifically earmarked for the purpose of financing the travel expenses; and

      `(3) the trip is permissible under these rules.

    The Clerk shall make public on its website on the Internet information received under this paragraph within 10 days.

    `(f) Before a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House, or a spouse or dependent thereof, may take a privately-funded trip, that Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee shall provide the complete itinerary and total estimated cost of that trip and the Ethics Committee shall have determined that the proposed funding and itinerary complies with all rules of the House, including the certification required by paragraph (d).'.

SEC. 402. DISCLOSURE BY LOBBYISTS OF ACTIVITIES RELATED TO CONGRESSIONAL TRAVEL.

    (a) Payments to Organizations That Fund Congressional Travel- Whenever a lobbyist required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 provides funding to an organization that funds official travel of a Member of Congress, the lobbyist shall, not more than 48 hours after providing those funds, disclose to the Clerk of the House of Representatives--

      (1) the organization;

      (2) the Member;

      (3) the amount of the funds; and

      (4) the date and nature of the travel.

    (b) Membership in Organization That Funds Congressional Travel- Whenever a lobbyist required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 becomes a member of an organization that funds official travel of a Member of Congress, the lobbyist shall, not more than 48 hours after becoming a member of the organization or after the organization funds the travel, as the case may be, disclose to the Clerk of the House of Representatives--

      (1) the organization;

      (2) the Member;

      (3) the amount of the funds; and

      (4) the date and nature of the travel.

    (c) In-Person Lobbying Contact During Congressional Travel- Whenever a lobbyist required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 has an in-person lobbying contact with a covered legislative branch official while the official is on official travel, the lobbyist shall, not more than 48 hours after the lobbying contact, disclose to the Clerk of the House of Representatives--

      (1) the official;

      (2) the date and nature of the lobbying contact; and

      (3) the client on whose behalf the lobbying contact was made.

SEC. 403. ENHANCED TRAVEL RECORDS FOR PRIVATELY-FUNDED OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

    (a) Enhanced Travel Records- Clause 5(b)(1)(A)(ii) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by--

      (1) inserting `a detailed description of each of' before `the expenses';

      (2) striking `30 days' and inserting `10 days'; and

      (3) inserting `, including a description of all meetings, tours, events, and outings during such travel' before the period at the end thereof.

    (b) Electronic Form- Clause 5(b)(1)(A) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence:

    `The disclosures required by this subdivision shall be made to the Clerk in electronic form and posted on its website on the Internet.'.

SEC. 404. MEMBER AND EMPLOYEE TRAVEL ON CORPORATE JETS.

    Clause 5(b) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

    `(6) Not later than 10 days after completion of travel on a flight on an aircraft that is not licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate for compensation or hire, excluding a flight on an aircraft owned, operate, or leased by a governmental entity, taken in connection with the duties of the Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee approved by the Ethics Committee, that individual shall file with the Clerk a description of meetings and events attended during such travel and the names of all passengers who accompanied that individual during the travel, except when disclosure of such information is deemed by the Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or supervisor under whose direct supervision the employee is employed to jeopardize the safety of an individual or adversely affect national security. Such information shall be posted by the Clerk on a public database and on the Member's, Delegate's, or Resident Commissioner's official website not later than 10 days after the completion of the travel, except when disclosure of such information is deemed by the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner to jeopardize the safety of an individual or adversely affect national security.'.

TITLE V--LOBBYISTS

SEC. 501. IMMEDIATE ELECTRONIC DISCLOSURE OF LOBBYIST AND FOREIGN AGENT REGISTRATIONS.

    (a) PROMPT REGISTRATION REQUIRED- Any person required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) or the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended (22 U.S.C. 611 et seq.), shall, in addition to any other requirements imposed by either such Act or other law, register with the Clerk of the House of Representatives within 10 days. Each such registration shall be filed electronically, in a form acceptable to the Clerk of the House.

    (b) ELECTRONIC DATABASE AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC- The Clerk of the House of Representatives shall maintain, and make available to the public, an electronic database of all registrations filed under subsection (a). Such electronic database shall be established within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

TITLE VI--GIFT RULE

SEC. 601. DISCLOSURE OF GIFTS.

    (a) DISCLOSURE BY MEMBERS- Clause 5(a) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

    `(7) Whenever a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee receives a gift having a value of at least $20 and that is not from a family member or described in subparagraph (3), that individual shall publicly disclose on the Member's, Delegate's, or Resident Commissioner's official website a description of the gift, its estimated value, and the identity of the person providing such gift within 10 days and provide such information to the Clerk. The Clerk shall make public this information on its website on the Internet as soon as possible after it is received, but not later than 60 days after such receipt.'.

    (b) DISCLOSURE BY LOBBYISTS AND AGENTS OF FOREIGN PRINCIPALS-

      (1) DISCLOSURE- Whenever a person required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) or the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended (22 U.S.C. 611 et seq.), or an employee of that person, gives a gift that must be disclosed under clause 5(a)(7) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives, that person shall, in addition to any other requirements imposed by either such Act or other law, disclose to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, within 10 days after the gift is given--

        (A) the nature and amount of the gift; and

        (B) the identity of the recipient of the gift.

    The Clerk shall make public this information as soon as possible after it is received, but not later than 60 days after such receipt.

      (2) PENALTIES- The penalties under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 shall apply to persons required to register under that Act who violate paragraph (1), and the penalties under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended, shall apply persons required to register under that Act who violate paragraph (1).

TITLE VI--FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

SEC. 701. POSTING OF LOBBYING REGISTRATION AND DISCLOSURE STATEMENTS ON HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES INTERNET SITE.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Not later than 30 days after receipt, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall post on the official public Internet site of the House of Representatives each registration and report filed with and retained by the Clerk under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), in a manner similar to the manner by which the Secretary of the Senate posts on the official Internet site of the Senate the registrations and reports filed with and retained by the Secretary under such Act.

    (b) PROVIDING NOTICE ON FORMS- The Clerk shall include on each registration and report form prepared and provided by the Clerk for purposes of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 a statement that the completed form will be posted on the official public Internet site of the House of Representatives in accordance with subsection (a).

    (c) EFFECTIVE DATE- This section shall apply with respect to all registrations and reports filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.