Reform, repent, Perot telling Congress


WASHINGTON -- Ross Perot is coming back to a fretting Congress today with yet another warning for the Capitol's politicians: Reform and repent or look for another job.

The Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate is the star witness at a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. According to congressional sources familiar with his prepared testimony, he's expected to tell the House members and senators that Congress and the entire government must undergo financial reform.

He's also likely to sound the themes of his presidential campaign, urging the committee to join the fight to make government smaller, to curb the practices of lobbyists and to give the people a greater voice in their government.

"All sacrifice must start at the top," Mr. Perot said on ABC's "Nightline" two weeks ago.

"If you ask the American people to sacrifice, then the example must be set in Washington."

Mr. Perot is speaking as the lawmakers are hearing the angry voices of the voters and are watching President Clinton, who has pledged to help cut costs by eliminating 100,000 federal jobs by attrition and freezing federal salaries.

They also may have their eyes on the latest polls. A CNN-USA Today survey shows Congress' job approval rating at 27 percent.

A committee spokeswoman says that several of the panel's hearings have been televised on C-SPAN, and the members have been getting an earful from scores of viewers who want term limits for members of Congress, a line-item veto for the president, the elimination of political action committees, congressional staffs cut in half and the number of congressional committees cut in half.

Congress is listening and it is obeying -- at least some of the time. Last week, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders pledged to follow Mr. Clinton's example by freezing the salaries of all lawmakers and their staffs for one year.

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution to that effect.

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