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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today on the House Floor against H.R. 513:
“At a time when this Congress is embroiled in the most serious scandal in a generation, when a culture of corruption has swept over this body with no sign the Ethics Committee is addressing it, this body should be devoting the precious few days it is here to reforming its own culture and practices.
“Today, the Republicans are doing what they so often do. They are trying to gag their opponents and further empower their supporters. They again abuse their legislative power to assault their adversaries. This is not reform. It is retaliation.
“It is ironic that so many of the Republican leadership in opposing campaign finance reform argued so strenuously against campaign expenditure limits, but now advocate limitations not because of principal, but because of political power and the abuse of that power.
“The Republican leadership has chosen to take on political organizations, in a cynical attempt to appear serious about reform and divert attention from its own ethical failures.
"Mr. Speaker, the problem confronting our policy is not independent groups whose political activities are legal and disclosed regularly to either the IRS or FEC.
“Rather, it is the degree to which the Republican leadership has sacrificed the public interest, good public policy, and its own ethical conduct in order to amass, consolidate, and perpetuate power through unseemly and unethical alliances with special interests, like Jack Abramoff.
“If this body were serious about reform, we would be debating the best way to eliminate the culture of corruption, not restrict the First Amendment rights of political organizations.
“Today we are missing an opportunity to look inward and expose ugly truths about the devolution of the legislative process from the one that the framers had in mind when they crafted article I of the Constitution.
“I challenge the other side to explain to me why, 15 months into the 109th Congress, nothing – nothing – has been done by this House to come to terms with the culture of corruption.
“I challenge the other side to explain how H.R. 513 will increase the public’s faith that elected representatives are adhering to the strictest ethical code, and will pay an appropriate price if they veer from it.
“And I would suggest that today’s debate underscores the extent to which a party that came to power 12 years ago promising a bold new direction has become insensitive to the issues that really matter to our nation in 2006. I yield back the balance of my time.”