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House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Ethics Requirements for Presidential Transition Teams

Feb 5, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 5, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement on the House floor in support of S.394, the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act, a bill to strengthen the ethics requirements for presidential transition team members.

Provisions of the bill were introduced by the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings and Senators Tom Carper and Elizabeth Warren in H.R. 964, the Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act.

Below are Chairwoman Maloney’s remarks, as prepared for delivery on the House floor:

Click here to watch Chairwoman Maloney’s remarks.

Floor Statement

Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney

S. 394: Presidential Transition Enhancement Act (Johnson)

February 5, 2020

The Presidential Transition Enhancement Act would make a number of important changes to the transition process when a new President is elected.

I want to thank Senators Johnson and Carper for their hard work on this issue.

Many of the provisions in the bill before us today were introduced in the House by our late Chairman Elijah Cummings in the Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act.

Most importantly, the bill would strengthen the ethics requirements for transition team members.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2017 about President Trump’s presidential transition.

GAO reported that the Trump Transition Team required team members to sign an ethical code of conduct, but failed to designate a transition team member responsible for enforcing it.

Ethics plans are important for presidential transitions because presidents-elect often hire transition team members who work in the private sector.

But unlike federal employees, private sector employees are not subject to federal ethics laws.

This bill would require eligible presidential candidates to implement and enforce ethics plans during the transition period.

The bill includes core elements of what those ethics plans should include, such as a description of how the transition team will address participation by lobbyists and individuals working for foreign governments.

The bill also would require that transition teams make the ethics plans they adopt publicly available.

It also includes provisions to ensure that non-public information remains confidential, and is not used in any way for personal gain.

The bill would clarify the responsibility of the General Services Administration during a transition by requiring a memorandum of understanding between the agency and the presidential transition team.

Finally, the bill would allow GSA to provide transition services for up to 60 days after an inauguration.

These provisions would help ensure smoother transitions than we’ve had in the past.

I’m very glad this is a bipartisan bill — the Senate approved this bill without any opposition.

The peaceful transition of power from one party to another is a cornerstone of our democratic system.

We must do all we can to ensure the integrity of that process.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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116th Congress