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Senate votes to deny pensions in ethics cases

Published January 13, 2007


WASHINGTON - Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, behind bars for bribery, can at least be consoled by the federal pension he will continue to collect. Current or future lawmakers convicted of crimes may not be so lucky.

The Senate on Friday voted 87-0 to strip away the pensions of members of Congress convicted of white-collar crimes such as bribery, perjury and fraud. That could result in benefit losses of more than $100,000 a year.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sponsored the measure with Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

The pension measure was attached to a comprehensive ethics and lobbying bill that the Democratic-controlled Senate, trying to improve the image of Congress after the scandals of last year, took up as its first legislative act of the year.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House would take up similar legislation next Friday. If enacted into law, the pension denial provision would go into effect in 2009.

Other Capitol news

STUDENT LOAN RATES: House Democrats said Friday they plan quick action to lower interest rates for student loans. Their proposal, scheduled for a vote next week, would cut interest rates on some loans in half.

PHONE RECORDS: President Bush on Friday signed a bill into law that would make it a crime to lie to obtain the telephone records of private citizens. Violators face fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

FOREST SERVICE: Montana forester Gail Kimbell was named Friday to head the U.S. Forest Service. Kimbell helped develop President Bush's "healthy forests" program criticized by environmentalists as a giveaway to logging companies.

FEDERAL DEFICIT: The federal deficit improved significantly in the first three months of the budget year, helped by surging tax revenue. The Treasury Department said Friday that the deficit from October through December totaled $80.4-billion, the smallest imbalance for the first three months since 2002.

[Last modified January 13, 2007, 01:10:38]

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