Sunday, November 12, 2006

House Democrats to hit the ground running with Congressional ethics reform

House Democrats to hit the ground running with Congressional ethics reform

Here's an interesting little tidbit from the CBC website. Nancy Pelossi has promised to making a Congressional ethics bill her first priority upon the swearing in of a Democratic majority Congress. Her proposed bill aims to eleminate all gifts, and perks from lobbyists to Congress-critters and their staffers, as well as requiring that final iterations of all bills be available for public review 24 hours prior to coming up for a vote, and instituting an Office of Public Integrity, which will report, directly and only, to the U.S. Attorneys Office.

In the spirit of reuniting an ideologically divided country, I think (hope) this bill has a good chance of passing, as I think it might help wash the nasty taste of the recent election out of the mouths of conseratives who were disappointed by the results, while at the same time feeling betrayed by their party.

Here are some of the new rules Pelosi wants:
No House member may accept any gift of any value from lobbyists, or any firm or association that hires lobbyists.
No free travel, which means an end to the corporate jet line every Friday at Reagan National Airport.
No free tickets to Redskins games; or no meals of any value, even at a McDonalds; no front-row seats at entertainment venues. No, no and no.

To reduce temptations to cheat, Pelosi's bill attacks the usefulness of members to richly endowed lobbyists.
House members will no longer be able to slip in special-interest projects on unrelated legislation. Such measures will no longer be allowed on a bill once negotiations between the Senate and House are complete.
Further, all bills will be made available to the public a full 24 hours before a final vote; presumably this gives watchdog groups a chance to flag any skullduggery.
Under the Pelosi rules, lobbyists will no longer be able to use the House gym (you'd be surprised how much gets negotiated in a sauna). Lobbyists will no longer be allowed onto the House floor or to use the cloakrooms just off the floor, preventing last-minute arm-twisting.
What's more, no member or staffer will be able to negotiate for employment in the public sector without disclosing such contacts to the House Ethics Committee, and within three days of such contact being made.

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