Statement from Senator Bernie Sanders on Ethics Reform

Today in the United States of America the middle class is shrinking, poverty is increasing and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider and wider. Meanwhile, the people at the top economically have never had it so good. The sad truth is that Congress, especially over the last 6 years, has not only failed to respond to this crisis, in many ways it has made the situation even worse. The American people understand this and, in this past election, they sent the message loud and clear. They want this to change. The people of this country are hurting and they want Congress to help reverse the disastrous policies that are accelerating the economic decline of so many of our people. In order to help rebuild the middle class and to combat poverty, to address the environmental and health care crises we face, Congress needs to move aggressively in a number of areas. But to begin that process, we need to change the rules to help limit the influence and power that lobbyists and their large corporate clients have over the Congress. For too long, the American people have seen legislation passed that in many cases was drafted by corporate lobbyists themselves legislation like the Medicare Part D program, trade policy, tax breaks for the rich and corporate welfare for large multinational oil companies. But while this ethics reform is an important step, we should be mindful that it is just a first step. We also need strong campaign finance reform to keep the wealthy and large corporations from buying elections. We need media reform so that the American people will have better access to different points of view. Most importantly, we need a strong grass-roots national movement which pressures Washington to represent the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, and not just powerful special interests. I want to applaud Senator Reid, Senator Feingold, Senator Obama and my colleagues here today for letting America know that the new majority in Congress is, in its first days, prepared to move forward on this important issue. In closing, let me just say, it is our obligation to help return control of the Congress back to the American people. I look forward to helping make that happen with ethics reform and the many, many other equally critical reforms that voters across this great nation told us they wanted this past November.