It's A Start - But not a Very Good One

The Washington Post:

The House narrowly approved ethics legislation yesterday that would expand the amount of information that lobbyists must disclose about their interactions with lawmakers and would also rein in big-money political groups that spent heavily in the last presidential election.

By a vote of 217 to 213, the House agreed to require lobbyists to file quarterly instead of semiannual reports, to include in those reports donations they give to federal candidates and political action committees, and to make public gifts that they give to lawmakers or congressional aides.

In addition, spending bills would have to list any narrow-interest projects, called earmarks, that they contain, as well as the sponsors of those projects. Lawmakers have frequently been able to insert these projects in major spending bills anonymously, without offering any justification.
The bill is weaker than the Senate version, which is itself weaker than what was promised by Republican Leadership following the Abramoff Scandal. All it really does is require lobbyists to report what they're doing four times a year instead of two and stops anonymous ear marks. While ending 'mysterious' earmarks is a good thing, the whole thing reeks of maintaining the status quo.
The Senate-passed legislation would bar lobbyists from providing gifts, such as tickets to sports events, and meals to senators and their aides. The House bill does not contain such restrictions for House officials.
It seems to me that if you're trying to cut down on corruption, banning gifts to legislators would be a very good place to start. Of course, said legislators have to vote to approve it the measure. Since we're talking about Republicans, essentially six year olds, we can pretty much count on them NOT to vote to make giving them gifts illegal.

Meals and travel aren't dealt with in any meaningful way either. And while this is good for me personally - lobbyists support a large fine dining scene otherwise absent in DC - it's bad for the country.

Democrats, calling the bill "a sham", achieved near unity in voting against it. Only eight Dems, all from Red States, voted for the measure.

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