The American people spoke out in the 2006 elections, demanding a New Direction--a Congress that would set a new high standard for accountability, open and transparent government, and ethical conduct--following a torrent of revelations of Republican corruption, cronyism, and incompetence from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.
This Congress is offering a New Direction, under Democratic leadership. These tough, innovative actions are the latest steps to restore accountability and fiscal responsibility to Washington.
Accountability reforms the Democratic-led House has already passed include:
- Tough New Congressional Ethics Rules: bans gifts, meals and travel from lobbyists, ends the abuses connected with privately funded travel, and mandates ethics training.
- Honest Leadership/Open Government Act: increases disclosure of lobbyists' contributions to lawmakers; establishes an online, searchable database of lobbyists' disclosure information; and takes other steps to increase the transparency of lobbyists' activities, building on our efforts to break the link between legislators and lobbyists.
- Disclosure of Bundling: requires lobbyists who 'bundle,' or collect campaign checks for Members of Congress, to meet strict reporting and disclosure guidelines.
- Congressional Pension Reform: denies taxpayer-funded pension benefits to House Members convicted of corruption while serving the American people.
- New Direction Congressional Oversight: The new Congress is working on several fronts to provide long-delayed federal government oversight. From the U.S. attorneys scandal, to deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to billions of dollars misspent in Iraq reconstruction and Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, to the student loan scandal, to the OPEC oil cartel--House committees are working to uncover the truth and put reforms in place. The years of the 'rubber stamp' Congress are over.
- Accountability in Contracting Act: a package of reforms to the federal contracting process to open up competition, which promises to save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.
- Small Business Contracting Reform: provides greater access to federal contracts to America's 26 million small businesses, and protections from mega-businesses getting small business contracts.
- Student Loan Industry Transparency Reforms: bans kickbacks and payments between lenders and colleges for preferred treatment in student loan process.
- Whistleblower Reforms: better protects those who report waste, fraud, or abuse.
- Freedom of Information Act reforms: makes the Freedom of Information Act more responsive to the public in a dozen substantive ways.
- Presidential Records: requires greater disclosure.
- Presidential Library Donations: requires greater disclosure.
- Corporate Accountability Reforms: allows shareholders to vote on egregious executive compensation.
- Authorization Accountability Reforms: reduces wasteful spending and direct funds to programs that show results in the re-authorization of major legislation like DOD, Homeland Security, and Head Start.
- Bipartisan Cooperation: The new Democratic leadership has already allowed more open rules than the total number allowed under the previous two-year Congress.
Fiscal responsibility has also been a key part of the Democratic record, from the budget surplus achieved under the Clinton administration to new Congress's 'pay as you go' budget discipline and reduction of 'earmarks' Member of Congress can request in the budget. The Democratic record of fiscal responsibility--then and now--offers a stark contrast to the reckless fiscal record of the last six years in Washington
- Two of the past three years, the Republican-led Congress failed to reach an agreement on a budget resolution.
- The Democratic-led Congress has now successfully written and passed a budget agreement that cuts the deficit and balances the budget over five years.
- The Democrats' 'pay as you go' budget discipline has been praised by the major fiscal watchdog groups in Washington: the Concord Coalition, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
- This Democratic budget has been supported by every major veterans' service organization.
- This Democratic budget makes critical investments in American priorities: strengthening our military and investing in the next generation and American prosperity.
The 110th Congress is working to make progress for the American people on the toughest challenges we face - challenges that have gone unaddressed for years in Washington.
Now there's a new direction--to restore accountability, defend our country and strengthen our military, protect our planet, grow our economy, and care for our children and families.