Senate OKs new rules for lobbyists


WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted 98-0 yesterday to require thousands of additional lobbyists to register and disclose their activities, but reached no agreement about limiting gifts from lobbyists and others.

In a series of closed meetings, supporters of efforts to place tighter limits on gifts failed to make much progress toward compromise with foes.

But Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he was hopeful of winning support for a new idea he was promoting -- that Congress put itself under the same strict limits that apply to officials in the executive branch, who are barred from accepting just about all gifts worth more than $20.

Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the Republican majority leader, warned against "going over the cliff here in our efforts to make sure we are all Simon-pure."

Senators involved in meetings over the issue said they had no idea if they would reach agreement, as they did on lobbying. The lobbying bill escaped without a single negative vote after Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the Select Committee on Ethics, reached agreement with its sponsors on some modest modifications.

The bill passed yesterday would greatly expand the definition of the word "lobbyist" and demand more information from them. It would broaden an unenforceable 1947 law to cover those who lobby the executive branch and lawyers who lobby part-time.

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