Politics of Poverty

The House GOP leader promises to “take the ax to” a bipartisan anti-corruption law

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Senegalese workers collect soil samples for gold mining company MDL in the area around Sabodala, Senegal. (Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / Oxfam)

The move would help oil, gas, and mining-related corruption flourish in resource-rich countries.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is responsible for being one of the faces of the Republicans in Congress. He helps craft and deliver a unified message about what the party stands for that members can carry across the country. On Wednesday, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he boasted that his party stands for corruption. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted it proudly. Clearly they’ve been duped by industry.

McCarthy’s op-ed is filled with falsehoods, but it states plainly that the House he leads will dismantle the bipartisan Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption rule, also known as “Section 1504”: “The House will also take the ax to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s disclosure rule for resource extraction.”

McCarthy falsely suggests that this rule was imposed by “the federal bureaucracy.” But he conveniently leaves out that this rule – bringing sunshine to oil and mining financial flows around the world – was actually mandated in law by Congress – not bureaucrats – and it was supported by both Republicans and Democrats. It exists because members of Congress from both parties, elected by the public, demanded it. They saw that increased transparency of financial flows between companies and governments in resource-rich countries benefits citizens, investors and US national security.

The rule requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose the payments they make to governments, so citizens can ensure their leaders are not stealing their national wealth. It is the model for rules passed in more than 30 countries, which ensure companies from the US, Russia, China and numerous other countries must be more transparent. It is one of the most important steps Congress has taken to fight corruption in the last seven years. It would help safeguard trillions of dollars of revenues from oil, gas and mining that should pay for roads, schools and hospitals that citizens need.

Embracing secrecy and corruption is a bizarre message for Republicans in the House to put forward just days into the Trump Administration. Having just weeks ago generated massive controversy in an attempt to weaken Congressional ethics oversight, McCarthy is now promising that one of the party’s top priorities is to make engaging in corruption easier. Huh?

GOP leaders in the Senate now have a chance to recreate what happened last time House Republicans tried to roll-back ethics protections: stop them in their tracks. Republican Senators can show they and their party care about fighting corruption by ensuring the effort to roll back the Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption rule ends in the House of Representatives.

I sincerely hope Republicans in the Senate do just that.

Want to help?

Give your Senator a call. Please call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with the office of your state’s Senator. Here’s a helpful script:

Hello my name is [NAME], and I am from [CITY, STATE]. I am calling to urge you to OPPOSE Representative Bill Huizenga’s joint resolution to roll back the Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption rule, also known as “Section 1504”.

A vote to overturn Section 1504 is a vote for corruption. Please stand up against corruption and poverty and defend Section 1504.

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