Thursday, April 27, 2006

House Passes Lobbying Reform, Sort Of

At first the House lobbying reform bill looked like it was going to die after Republicans pulled it back, fearing they didn't have enough votes to pass it. But whattya know, the GOP tried again and got something passed, though I wouldn't exactly call it "reform":

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Republican-backed lobbying overhaul bill narrowly survived Thursday, averting what would have been a stunning blow to the party's drive to repair the scandal-tarnished reputation of Congress before the fall elections.

The 216-207 House vote to advance debate on the bill came after GOP leaders spent hours urging their own members not to abandon them on the legislation. The turning point came when they persuaded Republican members of the Appropriations Committee to go along with measures in the bill to limit earmarks, or special interest projects.

In the end 12 Republicans, mostly lawmakers who thought the bill was too weak, voted against it. Democrats were unanimous in opposition.

Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., the main sponsor of the bill, said the bill would add new transparency to lawmaker-lobbyist relations. ''What we are doing here today is another indication of our strong commitment to the issue of reform.''

Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of the Republicans voting against the resolution, disagreed. ''We're losing our moral authority to lead this place,'' said Shays, who like Democrats, objected to procedures that barred them from offering amendments they said would have strengthened a weak bill.

This lobbying reform bill doesn't help innoculate the GOP from ethics problems. Not when Chris Shays, "maverick" Republican from Connecticut, openly mocks the bill and says Republicans are losing the moral authority to run the House.

But that's the modern GOP for you. They're good at P.R., terrific at paasing bullshit legislation that fools you if you don't look closely at it, but they're not so good at passing real reform.

This lobbying reform bill doesn't help innoculate the GOP from ethics problems.

Isn't this the bill only pushes the burden onto lobbyists to report their contributions, but does nothing to actually stem the contributions in the first place?
This would be it. But you know how it works with the current crop of Republicans, kvatch. They pass something called the Clear Skies Act and call themselves environmentalists (even though the Clear Skies Act undermines environmental protections), they pass a reform bill with no teeth and call themselves reformers.
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