Today, I attended Congressman Chris Murphy's press conference where he talked about the House passage of the ethics reform bill.
Followers of Murphy last year are aware that ethics reform was one of his signature campaign themes in his fight against former Congresswoman (a.k.a. medical and special interest lobbyists BFF), Nancy Johnson.
For those needing a refresher, here's Murphy blasting Johnson on the subject of ethics during last year's debate in Danbury.
In his short time in Congress, realizing that not delivering on this important issue could be damaging to the party in '08, Congressman Murphy led the charge among freshmen Democrats in fighting for ethics reform in Washington.
At a private, members-only meeting Tuesday, Democrats differed over an emerging plan to impose new restrictions on lobbyists, staff and lawmakers, according to some members who attended the meeting.
Some Democrats, such as Rep. Christopher Murphy, a freshman from Connecticut, said failure to deliver on their campaign promises to clean up Congress would be damaging now and in next year's election. He was one of a half-dozen freshmen to speak on the topic.
"Whether or not we clean up Congress might be the defining issue in my race," Murphy said afterward. "The Republicans are getting more like the Democrats on the big issues. What's going to be left is whether or not people feel Washington has changed."
After months of debate, Congressman Murphy can claim to live up to one of his promises with making making ethics reform a reality.
In what would be the most sweeping overhaul of ethics rules since the Watergate era, the House today gave final approval to a bill aimed at reining in the influence of lobbyists and repairing Congress' sullied image.
The bill require lobbyists to disclose more of their activities, including the campaign contributions they raise from clients, friends and relatives, a key source of their influence.
It would require lawmakers to disclose the special-interest items they slip into bills - a process, known as earmarking, that has figured prominently in congressional scandals. And it would deny congressional pensions in the future to lawmakers turned felons.
Government watchdog groups hailed the measure as "landmark reform."
"For the first time, citizens will be able to get a full picture of how lobbyists and lobbying organizations use money in Washington, D.C., to gain access and influence in Congress," Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said.
Some said they would continue to press for more change, including creating an independent Office of Public Integrity to investigate ethics complaints.
"We will celebrate the progress today, but we can't stop," said Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who won election last year by highlighting ethics.
At today's presser, Murphy talked about the passage of the bill.