Congressional Democrats are outlining their ethics plans today (Wednesday) which would bar lawmakers from accepting gifts, meals or trips from lobbyists. Republicans unveiled a similar set of rules Tuesday. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, says he’d like to see the proposals go a little farther.
Grassley says “I’m very definitely going to vote for them and I may have some other ideas about them later on, not to cut back in any way but maybe to expand. I think it’s the right thing to do.” Grassley says making rules is a relatively easy process but following the rules can become a challenge for some legislators. Grassley says “I’m very cynical about just rewriting rules to think that’s going to take care of all the problems that we have on ethics in Washington D.C. I think ethics begin with the individual and end with the individual and regardless of what the rules are, you’ll have high ethical standards if each individual member sets those high ethical standards.”
Congress has seen scandals in recent weeks as two top Republicans took falls because of their ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Grassley says people in both parties can be swayed. He says “I’ve seen breaches of ethics when Democrats were in the majority, breaches of ethics when Republicans are in the majority. I have voted for strong ethic rules at least three or four times in the 30 years that I’ve been in the Congress. They’ve been beefed up each time that we voted on them, so you can understand then maybe why I’m a little cynical about just rewriting the rules making a difference.”
Grassley says the effort to tighten up the ethics rules will “show the public that we’ve got our heart in the right place.”