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US Senate Overcomes Dispute to Approve Major Ethics Bill


The Democratic-led U.S. Senate has passed a sweeping ethics and lobbying reform bill.

The measure, approved Thursday by a vote of 96-2, bans lawmakers from accepting gifts and paid trips from lobbyists. It requires lawmakers to publicly disclose if they sponsor any individual spending items for their home states, known as earmarks. It also imposes strict limits on lobbying by former lawmakers, as well as a complete ban on lobbying by the spouses of sitting senators.

The bill was defeated Wednesday after a dispute over a Republican-backed amendment that would grant the president a line-item veto, allowing him to strike out individual items in spending bills. Both sides agreed early Thursday to attach the amendment to a separate bill on raising the minimum wage, which allowed passage of the reform bill.

Democrats won control of both houses of Congress in last November's congressional elections, promising to bring to an end a "culture of corruption" they said flourished under 12 years of Republican Party rule.

The Democratic-led House passed a similar ethics reform bill as part of six major legislative initiatives in the first 100 hours of the new Congress. Negotiators from both chambers will meet to craft a compromise measure.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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