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Ethics, schmethics. Despite the cloud over Countrywide pals Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad, the latest mortgage bailout boondoggle has cleared another congressional hurdle. The Senate voted 83-9 to move forward on Dodd’s housing aid bill. Final vote is scheduled for later today. We’ll see if the White House upholds its veto threat.
Meanwhile, Politico asks Senate members to show them their loans. Check out the results here.
It’s so, so tough to be a U.S. Senator, isn’t it?
Update: Here’s the cloture motion roll call vote. Look who’s AWOL again…
Update: Just received from Sen. John Cornyn’s office:
As part of a continued effort to strengthen public disclosure and increase transparency in Congress, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, announced today that he and Senate Ethics Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Ca., have introduced an amendment to the housing reform bill, currently under consideration in the Senate, which would require Members of Congress to disclose residential mortgages as a liability on their financial disclosure reports. In addition to Sens. Cornyn and Boxer, the amendment is cosponsored by Senators Mark Pryor, Ken Salazar, Pat Roberts, and Johnny Isakson, who together compromise the full Senate Ethics Committee.
Currently, there is an exception to the disclosure requirement for residential mortgages. The Cornyn amendment provides that this exception will no longer apply to Members of Congress.
“Accountability in government is only an empty promise without transparency and disclosure. The more information that we can put in the hands of citizens and journalists, the stronger our democracy will be, particularly as we take the necessary steps to rebuild the confidence of the American people in their government,” Sen. Cornyn said today. “This amendment would close an unwarranted loophole and provide citizens and journalists with more complete information on financial disclosure forms. I appreciate the bipartisan support this amendment has received and I am hopeful it will be included in the housing reform bill.”
Chairman Boxer said, “Ethics in government is something that needs to be revisited continually. This update will help make our disclosure rules stronger, and I believe it is an important step forward.”
Under the Cornyn amendment, Members of Congress will have to make a “full and complete” disclosure of residential mortgages. This will require Senators to disclose the date that the mortgage was entered, the range of the amount, the interest rate, the term, and the name and address of the creditor. It will take effect as Members of Congress file their financial disclosure forms next year.