Conrad Burns on Government Reform
Former Republican Senator (MT, 1989-2007)
Earmarks let me bring Montana a share of federal money
Q: Which of the 34 Montana earmarks in the latest transportation bill qualify as unjustified pork?
TESTER: Earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is wrong for representative democracy.
JONES: Incumbents always put something in
the transportation bill so they can brag about all the money they brought to the state. None of the 34 are qualified.
BURNS: I’m proud about what I brought back to Montana. Most of it is for infrastructure [in that bill]. That money’s going to be
spent somewhere in America, and I want Montana to get her share. If you leave it up to a faceless un-elected bureaucrat, with only 900,000 people, tell me how much we’re gonna get? Earmarks have to withstand the scrutiny of the subcommittee hearing, the
full Committee hearing, & the full Senate. I have to go out & defend them, and it’s pretty hard sometimes. We defend them, our name is on them, and that’s the way the process works. If they can’t stand the scrutiny, they will not make it.
Source: 2006 Montana 3-way Senate Debate at MSU
Oct 9, 2006
Voted NO on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.
A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY on the tabling motion because:
Reference: Feingold Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.2962 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-080
on Mar 29, 2006
- Using the term "registered lobbyist'' will create a huge loophole. The Ethics Committee treats the actual listed lobbyists as registered lobbyists, but not the organization.
- So, for example, a company can give a Senator free tickets to a show or a baseball game, as long as a lobbyist doesn't actually offer or handle them. If the lobbyist's secretary makes the call, that would be permitted.
- If these companies can still give gifts, we won't have a real lobbyist gift ban. We won't be able to look the American people in the eye and say, "We just banned gifts from lobbyists,'' because we didn't.
Voted YES on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
- We have heard from the media about the bribes and scandals, but we have heard only silence from the House Ethics Committee. One of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
- The American people perceive the entire ethics system--House and Senate--to be broken. We can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
- The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations
and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Reference: Collins Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.3176 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-077
on Mar 28, 2006
- The Constitution gave us not only the right but the duty to create our own rules, including the rules concerning our ethics. They are enforced internally by the Senate itself.
- The decisions made under this amendment would be no different than right now. The final decision will be made by the Senate Ethics Committee. All this really does is find a way to further publicize that complaints have been made.
- We have people accusing us almost daily of having done something wrong and publishing it through blogs and all that. I think we should be very careful in setting up another tool for these bloggers to create more charges against the Senate.
- I cannot support an amendment that either replaces the Senate Ethics Committee or adds another layer to our already expensive and time-consuming process. I urge the Senate to defeat this provision.
Voted NO on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.
Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
; vote number 2002-54
on Mar 20, 2002
Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.
Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
; vote number 2002-38
on Feb 27, 2002
Voted NO on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.
Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
; vote number 2001-64
on Apr 2, 2001
Voted YES on funding for National Endowment for the Arts.
This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569;
Bill H.R. 2466
; vote number 1999-260
on Aug 5, 1999
Voted NO on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.
Support of the campaign finance bill proposed by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI).
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
Reference: Campaign Finance Reform Bill;
Bill S. 25
; vote number 1997-267
on Oct 7, 1997
Voted YES on Approving the presidential line-item veto.
Approval of the presidential line-item veto authority.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)69; N)31
Reference: Conference Report on S. 4;
Bill S. 4
; vote number 1996-56
on Mar 27, 1996
Voted YES on banning more types of Congressional gifts.
To exclude certain items from the Congressional Gift Ban.
Status: Amdt Failed Y)39; N)60; NV)1
Reference: Murkowski Amdt to S. 1061;
Bill S. 1061
; vote number 1995-339
on Jul 28, 1995
Restrict lobbyist gifts & disclose lobbyist info on Internet.
Burns co-sponsored restricting lobbyist gifts & disclosing info on Internet
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
- Title I: Enhancing Lobbying Disclosure: Requires...
- quarterly instead of semiannual filing of lobbying disclosures reports;
- an annual report on registered lobbyists' contributions;
- maintenance of lobbying information in an electronic database, available to the public free of charge over the Internet;
- disclosure by registered lobbyists of all past executive and congressional employment; and
- disclosure of registered lobbyists' payments or reimbursements for travel and related expenses of government officials.
- Title II: Oversight of Ethics and Lobbying: annual report to Congress on lobbying registration and reports for compliance or noncompliance by lobbyists and their clients.
- Title III: Slowing the Revolving Door - Extends from one to two years the ban on lobbying contacts by former
Members of Congress, and officers of the legislative branch; and prohibits former Congressional employees, within one year after leaving office, from making lobbying contacts with a Member or employee of Congress.
- Title IV: Ban on Provision of Gifts or Travel by Lobbyists in Violation of the Rules of Congress: Prohibits a registered lobbyist from making a gift or providing travel to a Member or employee of Congress, unless the gift or travel may be accepted under the rules of the House or the Senate.
- Title V: Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress Act of 2006 - Establishes a Commission to report to Congress on congressional ethics requirements and to recommend improvements to ethical safeguards.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar No. 369; never came to a vote.
Source: Lobbying Transparency & Accountability Act (S.2128/H.R.4975) 05-S2128 on Dec 16, 2005
Page last updated: Nov 22, 2009