Rep. Huffman Votes for H.R. 1; Pushes for Stronger Executive Branch Ethics Laws
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today voted for H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a historic reform package to restore the promise of our nation’s democracy, end the culture of corruption in Washington, and reduce the role of money in politics to return the power back to the American people. The bill passed the house 234-193.
“For far too long, the voices of everyday Americans have been drowned out by special interests and the culture of corruption in Washington. H.R. 1 is an incredible step to curb the influence of big money in politics, protect voters’ rights, ensure access to the ballot boxes on election day, and overall protect the rights of the American people and allowing their needs to be heard.” said Rep. Huffman.
To improve on the ethics requirements in H.R. 1, Rep. Huffman will also be reintroducing his Executive Appointee Ethics Improvement Act.
“We must build off H.R.1 to fight corruption and injustice within Washington politics, which is why I will introduce my bill to take H.R. 1’s ethics requirements further to rein in bad actors in the Administration. The law should not allow a ‘walking conflict of interest’ like David Bernhardt to be directly involved in agency decisions that he was just paid by industry, as a lobbyist and lawyer, to influence. This legislation is integral to further enforce the ethical parameters set forth in H.R. 1, to shine a light on troubling conflicts of interest in the Administration, take key steps to close the revolving door, and help ensure political appointees can’t use their public role for their own private financial gain,” said Rep. Huffman.
The Executive Appointee Ethics Improvement Act expands upon the ethical mandates present within H.R. 1 to strengthen standards for political appointees in the executive branch, enforce the current five-year revolving door lobbying ban, compel public disclosure any time an executive branch official is granted a waiver from complying with that ban, as well as the rationale for the waiver, and implement strict restrictions for former lobbyists selected for top federal agency positions. The legislation ensures federal appointees with serious conflicts of interest, like Mr. Bernhardt, are legally precluded from taking official action on any issue they have previously lobbied.
David Bernhardt has spent the last two years turning the Interior Department into a favor factory for his past lobbying clients, and now he’s expecting the U.S. Senate to rubber stamp his promotion to be Interior Secretary. Bernhardt’s deep conflicts, the secrecy with which he operates, and his defiance of basic ethical standards speak to an urgent need for congressional oversight and reform. We applaud Congressman Huffman for shining a light into the dark corners of Bernhardt’s secretive operation and taking action to confront the culture of corruption,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
"Former lobbyist David Bernhardt is arguably the most conflicted nominee for Interior Secretary in American history. This bill would go a long way toward stopping his corruption from endangering our Western public lands and way of life. We applaud Congressman Huffman and his colleagues for rising to the challenge presented by an administration that treats iconic Western landscapes like a prize they can use to enrich their political allies," said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project.
"HR 1 is an important step for greater transparency and reducing blatant conflicts of interest. Current Secretary of Interior nominee David Bernhardt is a clear example of someone wielding his public position for the private interest of his former clients and to the detriment of California's public lands," said Chris Morrill, Executive Director, California Wilderness Coalition.
"The historic passage of HR 1 should strike fear into the heart of the corrupt Trump Administration, including Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt. For too long, Mr. Bernhardt has acted on the behalf of the special interests that he represented while in California, to the detriment of our communities and environment. Today, our California leaders in the House of Representatives have sent a clear signal against the politics of corruption-- enough is enough," said Mary Creasman, CEO, California League of Conservation Voters.
The Executive Appointee Ethics Improvement Act codifies several proposals called for by President Trump during his campaign and includes other reforms:
- Five Year Lobbying Ban: Codifies President Trump’s five-year lobbying ban on former appointees and requires that any waivers to the ban are published in the Federal Register and accompanied by a detailed description of the reasons the waiver was provided. Current law included a limited two-year lobbying ban with certain waiver authority;
- Two Year Cooling-Off Period: Increases from one year to two years the existing “cooling off period” prohibiting communication between former appointees and any officer or employee of the department or agency in which they served;
- Permanent Ban on Former Appointees Working for Any Foreign Government or Foreign Political Party: Prohibits a former appointee from register to lobby on behalf of a foreign government or foreign political party;
- Revolving Door Ban – All Appointees Entering Government: Prohibits for two years appointees from participating in any matter that is directly or substantially related to a former employer or former clients, including regulations or contracts;
- Revolving Door Ban – Lobbyists Entering Government: Prohibits individuals who were a registered lobbyist or engaged in lobbying activities during any time two years prior to appointment from participating in any matter on which they lobbied or from seeking employment with an executive agency they lobbied for two years; and
- Lobbying Disclosure: Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to require lobbyists to tell the public when they meet with administration officials.