Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Approves 1st Bill Accountability Act on Clinton's Desk

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Approves 1st Bill Accountability Act on Clinton's Desk

Article excerpt

The Republican-controlled Congress sent its first bill to President Bill Clinton on Tuesday when the House gave final approval to a measure requiring Congress to live by the same laws as other employers.

The House voted 390-0 in favor of the more detailed Senate version of a bill the House itself had passed in a frenzied opening-day session. Forty-five members did not vote.

It was the first bill from the GOP's "Contract with America" to clear Congress. The bill, called the Congressional Accountability Act, now goes to the White House, where Clinton has said he will sign it.

"It is about time that Congress lived by the same laws it places on the private sector," Clinton said Tuesday. He called the bill "only a first step in what must be a much greater effort to change business as usual in Washington."

Last year, the House passed similar legislation, but Senate Republicans blocked it.

Rep. William Goodling, R-Pa., chairman of the House Empowerment Committee, said the new law would serve as a "yellow flag" to Congress, warning members to be careful about passing workplace laws that affect private businesses.

In its final form, the measure applies 11 workplace, safety and labor laws to Congress.

Some members objected because the bill excluded a provision barring House members from cashing in for personal vacations airline frequent flier miles gained on official trips.

Rep. Thomas Barrett, D-Wis., wanted to amend the bill to bar such practices, but House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and other Republican leaders opposed that effort - and refused to permit a vote on the amendment. Earlier, Gingrich - who acknowledged Tuesday that he had used frequent flier miles to transport his wife and family at taxpayers' expense - called the proposed ban "a Mickey Mouse reform. …

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