Reid said Tuesday that he hadn’t “looked at the list of those who are on it” but added that he expects to get strong support from his Caucus. He also noted that many of his Members have yet to return to the Hill to fully focus on the bill.
Not yet co-sponsoring the measure are Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Paul Sarbanes (Md.).
Independent Rep. Jim Jeffords, who caucuses with the Democrats, also has yet to sign on to the measure.
“The people who have been our soldiers [on lobby reform] are on it,” Reid said, noting that Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Feingold have already put their pen to the legislation.
The Senate Minority Leader said those Senators’ support “speaks volumes” about the measure’s credibility in truly reforming the influence of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. But Reid said Republicans must come on board for any real changes to take place.
“We cannot solve the problems unless it is bipartisan,” Reid said. “I hope we can get the Republicans to work with us.”
Republicans, for their part, say they too want a bipartisan outcome. One GOP Senate aide said Republicans want to work across the aisle on the issue, and that Frist has made clear the two parties should come together.
“We have had a few Democrats approach us about being bipartisan, but Reid seems to have to put out a heavy-handed word to stay away from working with Republicans,” said the staffer. “We hope that doesn’t last.”
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said that
bipartisanship is the goal, and any talk to the contrary is “ridiculous.”
Bipartisanship aside, Democratic Senators continued to press ahead with implementing provisions of the lobby reform proposal internally, before any legislation is passed. Reid’s chief of staff, Susan McCue, issued a memo instructing her office to shun lobbyist gifts from now on. She also urged other Senate offices to follow suit.
The latest Senator to take that tack was Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who on Tuesday also announced plans to prohibit his staff from accepting lobbyist gifts. Reid, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have already said they are putting in place similar gift bans.
It remains unclear whether Republican Senators will adopt a similar policy within their offices. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said, “The Leader’s office follows the rules currently in place and will abide by any rule changes that are adopted.” As for his colleagues, GOP sources indicated the topic is likely to come up today when leadership meets and later this week during the Senate Republican retreat at the Library of Congress.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said Tuesday that at the moment, the issue of changing staff practices immediately is in the hands of the members themselves.
“You’d have to take it up with individual Senators,” he said.