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Capitol Hill Aims to Undo Abramoff’s Lobbying Impact on Gambling Legislation

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Now that lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been removed from any position of public influence, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are beginning to pick up the pieces of the legislation that the corrupt lobbyist had worked to defeat.

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House members are now regrouping to sponsor a bill that would ban gambling on the internet. A former version of the very same bill was introduced in 2000, but defeated by the efforts of Abramoff, who worked on behalf of gambling operators. The bill received 249 favorable votes, enough to pass with a simple majority but not enough to pass with the 2/3 vote required.

Rep. Rich Boucher, a Virginia Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said that he would work even harder to get the bill passed now. He is motivated, he said, by the knowledge of the reason the bill did not pass.

"It made me very angry," said Mr. Boucher. "I felt used and the whole system was abused.

In the Senate as well, senior Republicans are hustling to reintroduce the ban banning internet gambling.

"This would demonstrate that not only are we changing the mechanisms [of lobbying], here is one tangible result," says Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. "Jack Abramoff is not going to have his way now."

Sen. Kyl, who is leading the efforts to ban gambling on the internet, has attracted more than 100 co- sponsors for the anti- gambling bill. His fellow lawmakers, he said, want to “show some separation between them and [Abramoff]."

Abramoff’s lobbying causes were not limited to online gambling; nor are the efforts of legislators to show that the now- disgraced lobbyist did not get the best of them limited to the gambling realm.

Another of Abramoff’s issues was the application of U.S. labor and immigration laws to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory located in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. A previous attempt to apply the laws were defeated after several lawmakers closely associated with Abramoff, including former Majority Whip Tom DeLay took luxurious vacations to the island, paid for by Abramoff and his corporate clients. Rep. George Miller, (D., Calif.), who has spent years trying to bring the Mariana Islands into the U.S. legal fold, said that he and his aides are already working to redraft legislation that would finally accomplish his goal, now that Abramoff is out of the way.

The damage, however, may already be done on this particular issue. The main champion in the Senate on this bill was Sen. Frank Murkowski, who is now serving a term as the governor of Alaska.

In relation to the gambling issue as well, some suspect that the bill will not sail through the legislature as swiftly as it might have earlier. The online gambling industry is now much better organized, and better financed, than it was many years ago.

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