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Inside Politics

Bill strips ethics-challenged legislators of pensions

Story Highlights

• Amendment attached to ethics reform bill
• Measure would apply only to future violators
• House to take up similar measure next week
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate on Friday approved a measure stripping taxpayer-funded pensions from members of Congress who are convicted of serious ethics offenses, such as bribery and conspiracy.

The vote was 87-0.

Sens. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ken Salazar, D-Colorado, attached the amendment to an ethics reform bill earlier this week.

"The only thing crazier than giving a member of Congress convicted of a crime a federal pension is the fact that we still need a bill to prevent a convict from receiving their pension," Salazar said at the time. "A member of Congress who abuses their position of authority for their personal profit deserves a prison sentence, not a government pension."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said Friday that the House will take up a similar bill next Friday.

If passed by the House and signed into law by President Bush, the bill would eliminate pensions only for future members of Congress convicted of ethics offenses.

Ex-congressmen such as Randall "Duke" Cunningham -- collecting an estimated $64,000 a year although he pleaded guilty to charges of accepting bribes -- and James Traficant -- convicted of taking bribes, among other charges, and collecting an estimated $40,000 a year -- will get to keep their pensions.

The bill also would not affect former Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned in September after he was found to have sent inappropriate e-mails and messages to House pages. Foley is the subject of a criminal investigation in Florida, but has not been charged.


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Former Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was convicted of taking bribes and other crimes.

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