Thursday, January 18, 2007

Senate GOP kills ethics reform


I continue to be amazed at the venality of congressional Republicans. Do they never learn?

The first piece of legislation to be addressed by the new Democratic-controlled Senate was a comprehensive ethics reform package. The GOP basically killed it yesterday by refusing to let it reach the floor for a vote.

"It's as obvious as the sun coming up somewhere in this world that they tried to kill this bill," a furious Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last night in an interview. "And all 21 Republican senators up for reelection are going to have to explain how they brought down the most significant reform ever to come before this Congress. They brought this baby down."

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said insistence on a line-item-veto vote was proof that the GOP is serious about passing the toughest possible overhaul of the way Congress conducts its business. Efforts to give Bush power to strike individual items from spending bills have been struck down by the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans insist that the latest version will pass constitutional muster.
We're supposed to believe the Republicans killed ethics reform over a principled insistence on giving Bush the line-item veto? Who on earth do they think they're fooling?

The Republicans had control of the House of Representatives for 11 years. They had both houses of congress and the White House for six years. If they really thought the line-item veto was so important, they would have figured out a way to make it happen by now. I mean, they got rid of habeas corpus, the bedrock principle of every legitimate judicial system on earth. The line-item veto should have been a walk in the park compared to that.

This has nothing to do with the line-item veto. This is about right wing groups' opposition to a provision of the ethics bill that would have required interest groups to disclose what they spend to influence legislation.

... a provision that had raised the ire of conservative activists such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform as well as the National Right to Life Committee. Proponents of the provision said it would combat activities brought to light during the Jack Abramoff scandal. Abramoff, a once-powerful Republican lobbyist now in federal prison, channeled millions of dollars from Indian gambling clients through nonprofit groups run by former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and Norquist to fund campaigns against rival tribal interests.
At the end of the day, it's all about appeasing the right-wing base. The greater good be damned.

Well, my friends, in 2008, 21 of the 33 contested senate seats will belong to Republicans. Let's make sure nobody forgets the stand they took this year on one of the main issues that cost them the majority in the first place.


To underscore the unbelievability of the "line-item veto" argument, consider the following message that FRC Action, the PAC of the Family Research Council, sent to its supporters on Wednesday:

This week the U.S. Senate is weighing S.1, a bill that would reform the current lobbying rules. As we have emphasized, FRC supports proposals that penalize elected officials, staff, and paid lobbyists for unethical conduct.

However, we urge Congress to reject the provisions that target "grassroots" lobbying, which would make it difficult if not impossible for average citizens to keep up with and communicate to their elected officials here in Washington. None of the corruption that has taken place justifies the Senate's push to regulate your right to be informed and involved in the policy process.

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) has offered Amendment No. 20 to strike the so-called "grassroots lobbying" provision from the bill, which could be voted on as early as tomorrow. We urge you to contact your Senators and ask them to support the Amendment--before it's too late!
The GOP, having adopted a back-to-basics strategy for regaining its political dominance, believes it cannot afford to alienate groups such as the FRC, National Right to Life, or Americans for Tax Reform. This is why Republican lawmakers chose to hew to their base, even if it meant rejecting the meaningful ethics reform demanded by the voters who cast them into the wilderness in 2006.


betmo said...

weeping jesus on the cross i am so sick to death of these 'people.' if we could just figure out what the hell was wrong with them, maybe we could cure it.