Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, and other freshmen leaders called for Congress to start obeying the laws it passes.
Congress through the years has routinely exempted itself from scores of laws overseeing such things as workplace safety, anti-discrimination and government secrecy."Just as the White House cannot be above the law by claiming executive privilege, Congress cannot be above the laws it passes by claiming legislative privilege," she told a House Administration Committee hearing.
Shepherd, co-chairwoman of the Democratic Freshman Reform Task Force, appeared with other leaders of freshman Democrats and Republicans who urged the same action.
"We must put an end to the double standard of one law for the American people, a different set of laws for us," she said. "If it is good enough for the rest of the country, then it is good enough for Congress."
The House is considering compromise legislation suggested by a joint committee on reform that would finally require Congress to obey such laws as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Labor Standards Act.
Shepherd said that does not go far enough. She said Congress should also obey such laws as the Freedom of Information Act - which forces government to disclose most documents. And she said it should also plan to implement work- place safety rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"We firmly believe that Congress will regain the trust of the American people and make better laws once it is required to live under the statutory requirements it places upon the executive branch and the private sector," she said.