On January 18, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive ethics and lobbying reform bill (S.1). The legislation seeks to change both Senate rules and the law, and unlike the recently passed House ethics reforms, which took effect immediately, the Senate ethics reforms will not take effect unless and until the legislation becomes law. To become law, the legislation must pass the House, be reconciled in conference committee, and then be signed into law by the President.
The House is expected to take up its version of the Senate bill within weeks, and most observers expect the House and Senate to agree on a final bill before the end of March. Based on the Bush Administration’s statements regarding ethics reform last year, the President is expected to sign such a bill. Accordingly, we expect that most of the provisions in the Senate bill outlined in this advisory will become law during the second quarter of this year, although certain provisions (such as the lobbying disclosure provisions) would not take effect until January 1, 2008. This advisory briefly describes these changes and the practical implications for lobbyists and companies or organizations that employ or retain lobbyists.