updated 7/27/2007 9:51:41 PM ET 2007-07-28T01:51:41

House and Senate negotiators agreed Friday on a bill to tighten lobbying restrictions, including a requirement that lawmakers disclose those lobbyists who collect large sums of campaign money for them, participants said.

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Democratic leaders hope to pass the measure in the House and Senate next week, allowing them to fulfill a 2006 campaign promise before Congress recesses for most of August. The two chambers had passed similar lobbying legislation months ago, but efforts to reconcile their differences had bogged down.

The proposed legislation would require lawmakers to disclose lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more for them, within a six-month period, through a popular practice known as bundling. Bundlers solicit campaign checks from numerous people, but their efforts often go undetected under existing campaign finance disclosure laws.

Earlier versions of the bill would have required lobbyists-bundlers to disclose their efforts. But many lawmakers preferred to have the obligation fall on them, fearful that a lobbyist might deliberately or inadvertently make a mistaken but embarrassing claim of large donations to a member shortly before his or her re-election.

The disclosure requirements apply to individuals and to Democratic and Republican campaign organizations working for House and Senate candidates. Some Democratic senators wanted a large threshold — $100,000 over six months — to trigger mandatory disclosure for their campaign group. But they agreed to the $15,000 threshold late Friday, said a person familiar with the negotiations but willing to speak only anonymously because of the topic’s sensitivity.

Greater disclosure
Other provisions in the legislation would require former senators to wait two years before taking a lobbying job in which they would deal with their former colleagues. Former House members would have a one-year “cooling off” period.

The legislation also calls for greater disclosure of lobbyists’ and lawmakers’ efforts to place so-called “earmarks” in spending bills, an often-criticized way to finance pet projects.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., had blocked efforts to reconcile the House and Senate versions because he feared a conference committee might strike the Senate earmark language. To circumvent his tactics, negotiators plan to have the House and Senate pass identical versions of the revised bill next week, making a conference committee unnecessary.

DeMint may again try to sidetrack the legislation with stalling tactics, but Democrats hope to overcome his efforts by the week’s end.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., one of the House negotiators, said the agreement should satisfy open-government groups and lawmakers willing to accept more scrutiny of campaign strategies. “It’s a good day for the reform effort,” he said.

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