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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
US Senate tightens lobbying rules
Disgraced US lobbyist Jack Abramoff (file image)
Scandals surrounding lobbyists like Mr Abramoff prompted the bill
The US Senate has voted in favour of a bill to tighten rules on lobbying and ethics for lawmakers, following its approval in the lower house.

Under the bill, which must still be signed by President Bush, lawmakers must disclose donations from lobbyists.

Democrats hailed the new legislation as one of the biggest advances in US congressional ethics in decades.

Lobbying scandals, involving mainly Republicans, played a decisive role in the Democrats' mid-term election win.

During the run-up to last November's poll the Democrats repeatedly attacked what they called a "culture of corruption" on Capitol Hill under the Republican party.

Pet projects

"The American people sent Democrats to Congress to clean up the mess," said Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid, "We have heard the call."

The law requires greater disclosure of so-called earmarks - allocations of funds for specific projects or purposes - in spending bills.

Lawmakers would also have to make public the names of lobbyists who raise $15,000 (7,360) or more on their behalf.

Members would be banned from accepting gifts from lobbyists or their clients.

The new legislation also prevents senators from lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office while members of the House of Representatives would have to wait one year.

Several Republicans said the bill did not go far enough in requiring full disclosure of earmarks but most voted in favour of the bill.

"Americans were right to be outraged by the scandals that surfaced last year, they're right to hold their lawmakers to the highest standard of conduct," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Republican congressman Randy Duke Cunningham are both now in prison on corruption charges involving illicit lobbying activities.

The White House has not said whether US President George W Bush intends to sign the bill.

But White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said Mr Bush had "serious concerns" about the measure, according to the Associated Press.

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