Policy and News Updates for April 6, 2006

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Policy Updates







[new] House bill addresses lobbying, whistleblowers, and "pseudo classification"
"The Executive Branch Reform Act" (H.R.5112), a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Davis (R-VA) and Rep. Waxman (D-CA), would add transparency to meetings between the executive branch and lobbyists, limit the use of "pseudo classification" (including "sensitive but unclassified") designations, and give more protections to national security whistleblowers.
Status: On April 6, the bill was reported out of the House Government Reform Committee.
Sources: H.R. 5112 [via Federation of American Scientists]; Secrecy News blog; POGO blog

[updated] Washington corruption spurs proposals for reform
Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders rushed to propose fixes to Washington’s corruption scandals after super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty to conspiracy, tax and fraud charges.
Status: The Senate passed S. 2349 (the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act) on March 29. The House Government Reform Committee approved a proposal to cut off the pensions of lawmakers convicted of public corruption-related crimes, part of H.R. 4975 (the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act), on April 6. The House is expected to take up H.R. 4975 after the recess.
Sources: S.2349; H.R. 4975; OMB Watch’s Lobbying Reform & Government Ethics Resource Center; Links to bills and member floor statements [moresoftmoneyhardlaw.com]

[updated] Secret spying heats up
Secrecy limited oversight and debate over controversial National Security Agency (NSA) plans to spy on Americans without a court order.
Status: The Senate Judiciary Committee has held three hearings on the legality of the program. The latest hearing included testimony from four judges on the FISA court, who encouraged members of the committee to allow the FISA court to retain its oversight role.
Sources: Three key bills in the Senate: S.2455, S.2453, S.2468; Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Statements [via Federation of American Scientists]; Feingold seeks censure of president [CNN]; Key articles and statements [collected by CDT]


News from Coalition Partners and Others

[new] FBI calls Michigan League of Women Voters
A Michigan chapter of the League of Women Voters received a call from the FBI after hosting a panel on open government. The FBI agent called the president of the local league about comments that Chellie Pingree, the president of Common Cause, made during the panel discussion. Find out more and read the joint letter by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to FBI Director Mueller.