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A New Direction The House Democrats’ plan to clean up the so-called culture of corruption in Congress begins with breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation, according to their outlined agenda on beefing up integrity in the new Congress. Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she will spearhead the new Democratic-controlled Congress’ efforts to introduce and pass new lobby reform legislation in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress, which begins its sesson in January. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act would ban gifts, including meals, tickets, entertainment, and travel, from lobbyists and nongovernmental organizations that retain or employ lobbyists. It also will prohibit lobbyists from funding, arranging, planning, or participating in congressional travel, and it will attempt to slow the revolving door by prohibiting ex-lawmakers from lobbying their former colleagues for two years after leaving the Hill. Drew Hammill, spokesman for Pelosi, says Democrats are still working on both lobby reform rules and statutory changes and are confident the legislation will pass “with bipartisan support.” — Osita Iroegbu
Girl Power Democrats aren’t the only ones who made gains in Congress last month. When Congress convenes in January, there will be more women on board than ever before, both in greater numbers and in more powerful positions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Women hold 16 percent of the seats in the new Congress, and campaign donations from women tallied up to 27 percent of the total amount given in the election cycle. Their financial participation in elections has risen steadily over the past decade. According to the center’s statistics, female incumbents raised, on average, $2.2 million this election cycle compared to $1.6 million raised by male incumbents. Female challengers raised an average of $580,000, while male challengers raised an average of $460,000. Leading the charge of female power on the Hill are Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) — who may be leaning toward entering the 2008 presidential race — and incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who made history by becoming the first woman to hold the position. — Osita Iroegbu
Let It Flow The drinks and food were abundant and conversations plentiful in Washington last week as Congress and many lobby shops held their annual holiday parties. On Wednesday the House Energy and Commerce Committee had a gathering in the Rayburn Building for merriment. Committee members such as Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) mingled with guests such as Alan Roth, a former minority staff director and chief counsel to the committee who is currently a partner at Lent Scrivner & Roth. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), soon to be chairman of the committee, invited several guests to the party, including Tom Ryan, a former counsel to the committee and a partner at Ryan Phillips Utrecht & MacKinnon, and John Orlando, senior vice president for CBS Corp. On Thursday the offices of Quinn Gillespie & Associates were packed with firm luminaries, including Edward Gillespie and Marc Lampkin, sampling mini-bacon-cheddar burgers, sushi and the “QG-tini” — Bailey’s Mint Chocolate liqueur, Rumplemintz, and a candy cane. But so far, the over-the-top holiday-party award goes to the all-Republican shop Barbour Griffith & Rogers. The party was catered by Leisha Prather (wife of Mississippi Republican Rep. Charles Pickering); firm lobbyists such as Lanny Griffith, Ed Rogers, and Bryan Cunningham dined on scrumptious seared duck with blue cheese atop a fried potato, along with sweet-corn souffle. Equally indulgent, the “BGR Sweet Shop” featured large canisters of Gummy Bears, Twizzlers, and other confections that guests, provided with doggie bags, could fill and take home. — Joe Crea
• AFTER DARK • Let’s Chill It’s sleek and urbane, and David Chung wants it to be the next place you select when going out in Washington. The establishment, Kstreet, located at 1301 K St. N.W., is a departure from the stuffy, antiquated bars that have traditionally dominated Washington. Chung, a former associate at Baker & Hostetler and co-owner of the lounge, says the District is finally ready for such a space. It features 23 tables with low-level, padded, booth-type seating in an austere setting. “There was not a place in D.C. that had has many tables as we do,” says Chung. That may be true today. But Washington was once a mecca of lounge bars, with hot spots attracting an older clientele all over the city. In recent years, the lounge has made a comeback in major cities around the country. “With us, there’s no dance floor, just a nice elegant bar with the majority of the space occupied by tables. You see a lot of that in Europe, South America, and Asia,” says Chung. Anyone is welcome, provided they sign the guest list online. Forty percent of the club’s business is derived from corporate events. Chung says Kstreet will do Christmas parties this year for CNN and Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty. Reuters chose Kstreet as its spot to party after this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. — Joe Crea
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “There is tremendous value in a member of Congress or congressional staff attending a fact-finding tour or association conference outside the nation’s capital. [It allows] lawmakers to see and hear at the source how legislation affects a particular constituency.” — John Graham, American Society of Association Executives • “Conversations I have had with House and Senate leadership about the bill have been positive and encouraging.” — Former New York Rep. Jack Kemp (R) on a bill to give D.C. residents a vote in Congress • “We would give up any pay, any outside food. We would live in the Russell compound. We would have no conjugal visits. And for 15 minutes a day we would go out into the courtyard, which we would use to confess our sins and flagellate ourselves.” — Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) on proposed lobby reform

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