Tuesday, January 23, 2007

House strips pensions from convicted lawmakers

The Democratic majority continues to spare no effort at reminding us what governing looks like.

The House of Representatives just passed a measure denying taxpayer-funded pensions to members of congress who are convicted of certain felonies related to their congressional duties.

The 431-0 House vote comes just four days after former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, received a 30-month prison term for taking political favors from Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose influence-peddling tactics helped make political corruption a major issue in the November elections.

Ney, as past chairman of the House Administration, last year backed similar legislation, saying members of Congress should be held to the highest standards.

"But that bill never passed, for which Congressman Ney is probably grateful," said freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda (news, bio, voting record), D-Kan., sponsor of the measure. "Corrupt politicians deserve prison sentences, not taxpayer-funded pensions."
Measure isn't retroactive, so Ney and Randy "Duke" Cunningham get to keep their pensions.

The bill expands the scope of offenses for which lawmakers can lose their pensions. Traditionally, forfeiture has been limited to treason and espionage. The new legislation includes bribery, convictions for which brought down Ney and Cunningham.

Laughably, Republicans who controlled congress for more than a decade, and could have done this anytime they wanted to, are sniping that the measure isn't tough enough.

Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said he was unable to offer an amendment adding other public corruption felonies to those triggering pension forfeiture, including income tax evasion, wire fraud, intimidation to secure contributions and racketeering.

Republicans, denied opportunities to offer amendments in the first weeks of Democratic rule, also lashed out at last-minute Democratic tinkering on provisions including when the bill would take effect. "How this bill has come to the floor is an abomination of the rules," said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"An abomination of the rules." Really?

Well, Boehner should know. They're his rules. But, I guess it's easier to dish it out than it is to take it.