Morning News:

  • The DC restaurant industry is not happy with congressional efforts to prohibit lobbyists from treating lawmakers and their staff to meals, according to the Los Angeles Times. In response to this attempt at reforming lobbying the restaurant industry has dispatched its own team of lobbyists to lobby Congress to allow lobbyists to be able to spend freely for lawmakers’ meals.
  • What happens when you violate safety laws, don’t pay fines, and oppose increased oversight? The Hill reports that you get tax breaks: “After fatal mining accidents this year, the mining industry is on the verge of winning tax breaks to help pay for new safety technologies as it lobbies against government-imposed safety requirements.” Back in January the Washington Post reported that, “the Bush administration abandoned or delayed implementation of 18 proposed safety rules that were in the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s regulatory pipeline in early 2001”.
  • President Bush’s Faith and Community Based Initiative is directing millions of dollars into organizations run by his religious right supporters, according to the Washington Post. Rep. Mark Souter (R-IN) says that the program has “gone political” and Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) asserts, “I believe ultimately this will be seen as one of the largest patronage programs in American history.” Outspoken televangelist Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing received tens of millions of dollars; “local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs;” Shepherd Smith, the strategist for Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid, received $7.5 million; many of the recipients of federal grants were “influential supporters of Bush’s presidential campaigns.”

  • Prosecutors in the Tom DeLay (R-TX) money laundering case are trying to get two charges reinstated against the troubled former Majority Leader, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports that DeLay believes that the charges are just political theater and prosecutor Ronnie Earle will throw out the charges after the 2006 midterm elections.